Learn how the World Bank Group is helping countries with COVID-19 (coronavirus). Find Out


Improving Infrastructure and Services in Colombo

March 19, 2014


Infrastructure rehabilitation demonstration projects for Colombo Municipal Council (CMC): Galle Road and R.A. De Mel Mawatha

Indika Samarakoon/World Bank

  • Contribute towards flood mitigation and improved urban environment in Colombo
  • Enable safer travel for pedestrians
  • Enhance service delivery in Metro Colombo by promoting coordination between local authorities and others

Galle Road, which runs parallel to the coastline, is the main feeder channel for vehicular traffic from the South into Colombo city’s commercial spine. The road is a route for a multitude of economic activities such as industries, tourism, and retail, and it accommodated the needs of the residents living alongside it. R.A. De Mel Mawatha, also known as ‘Duplication Road’, runs parallel to the Galle Road and is experiencing increasing commercial developments and traffic flows.

The two roads account for a major share of vehicular and pedestrian traffic entering and exiting the city on a daily basis, especially during peak hours, and are the key facilitators of Colombo’s economic development. The two roads also support the recreational, social and cultural needs of the city through facilitation of essential conveniences and providing access to services and public spaces. Despite their important role as vital spines for city life, they are in poor condition and lack sidewalks.

Therefore, the Galle Road and R.A. De Mel Mawatha were identified by the national and city authorities for extensive upgrading in order to contribute to the higher level objective of transforming Colombo into a world-class capital. This rehabilitation project is a pilot project supported by the World Bank, and it is a sub-project under the Metro Colombo Urban Development Project (MCUDP). This demonstration project builds upon the experiences implementating of a section of the Galle Road, from Bambalapitiya to Kollupitiya, under the management of the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC).

Indika Samarakoon/World Bank

Project purpose

While the main expected outcome of this project is to provide “Better and safer access for pedestrians” through wide sidewalks, safe pedestrian crossings and comfortable disabled- friendly access, the project also aims to demonstrate how CMC can adopt and implement new mechanisms for multi-sectoral coordination between various utility providers and line agencies in order to carry out such complex rehabilitation works efficiently and effectively. The project will also further build the capacity of the municipality staff in managing large and complex rehabilitation contracts and subsequently equip them with a new asset management system.

Project Beneficiaries:

· CMC, the Road Development Authority and other responsible agencies for Galle Road and Duplication Road.

· Pedestrians and bus and vehicle users.

· Adjoining residents, visitors to the city, national and international tourists, commercial and government institutions, etc.

Project implementation

CMC is the implementating agency for the Galle Road and R.A. De Mel Mawatha sub project. The project is being implemented through three procurement packages:

A. Galle Road: from the Galadari roundabout to Kollupitiya Junction

B. Galle Road: from Bambalapitiya Junction to the South City limit

C. R. A. De Mel Mawatha: From the Liberty Roundabout to the Dharmarama Road limit

Some of the main features of these projects are as follows:

i. Future expansion plans of agencies providing public utilities (water, electricity and telecommunications connections) have been accommodated, to ensure minimum disruption to roads and pavements over the next 5 years. For instance, old water pipes are being replaced to increase the supply along the rehabilitated stretch of roads - this will prevent future excavation for water services. Similarly, PVC ducts are being incorporated into the roads and sidewalks at 150m intervals. This will allow CMC to coordinate with the utility agencies to plan carefully for the future installation of cables along the road without disrupting the entire stretch of road and sidewalk.

ii. The city skyline will be improved along the Galle Road and R.A. de Mel Mawatha by enforcing regulations on overhead banners and billboards. The owners will be expected to improve the appearance of private buildings to present a cleaner and more attractive city image that in the long term will contribute to the competitiveness of Colombo.

iii. Flood mitigation measures have been incorporated in the road rehabilitation design. The sloping of road profiles and side drainage will be corrected to allow efficient flow of storm water. Drains, gullies, manholes and other flood water outfalls will be renovated and/or cleaned. As the Galle Road is at a higher elevation and R. A. de Mel Mawatha is at a lower elevation, provisions have been made for floodwater to transit through pipes which will eventually drain out to the sea.

Indika Samarakoon/World Bank