Here you see some photos of the Dehiwela Flyover bridge over the Colombo Galle Road at the Dehiwela Junction. At a glance anyone who looks at this flyover bridge which was built at record breaking speed of just three months in 2009 will see it as a sign of big development in Sri Lanka. However as you will learn from the things I will tell you in this article the reality is far from development or progress for the country.
This Dehiwela Flyover Bridge is living proof of another ill-conceived Government project which swallowed hundreds of millions of public funds but overall failed to benefit the country or its people in the short term or long term.
The Sri Lanka Government spent a huge amount of money and built this flyover bridge saying it is development and will reduce the nightmarish slow moving traffic jams you see during office and school hours in Galle road near Dehiwela Junction. However 2 years after the flyover was built, today the traffic jams in Dehiwela near this flyover is worse than it ever was.
If the authorities really wanted to reduce traffic in Dehiwela Galle road they should have either widened the Galle road from 4 lanes to 6 lanes or built the planned Dehiwela Marine Drive which will run parallel to the Galle road and offer a alternative to motor traffic. Instead they not only built this vain flyover bridge but also removed road crossings, several bus halts and blocked turning points to off roads from Galle Road by erecting an island and fence in the middle of the Dehiwela Galle Road.
As a resident who lives near the flyover and sees and uses it, I can attest that the Dehiwela Flyover has now become a curse to Dehiwela people. For instance instance a few days back I met an elderly lady, (who said she was a 70+ great-grandmother) standing near the Dehiwela Municipal Council. She told me she is a social worker and JP and she had collected 25 signatures from her neighbors and had come to meet the Dehiwela & Mount Lavinia Mayer to complain about the removal of road crossings and bus halts within the last year or two in the Dehiwela Galle Road. Removal of these has caused her and her neighbors who live in Campbell Place off Dehiwela Galle Road to walk several hundred meters before they can get into a bus or cross the Galle road to shop at the Food City supermarket at the other side of the road.
The Authorities have removed several bus haults and crossings like this near the flyover saying they were causing more accidents. The bus halts that were known as Ebert Silva bus halt, Arpico bus halt, Cambell place halt are some of those removed. So to board a bus Dehiwela people and visitors have to sometimes walk nearly a kilometer to the next nearest bus halt. However the increase in accidents is not because of the halts or crossings. As you can see in the above photos the flyover was built at the Dehiwela junction without widening the road. So many motorist who drive over the flyover in which traffic moves faster find it hard to control the speed when they join the slow moving traffic at the other end of the flyover. This is the primary reason for accidents not bus halts.
Vehicle owners in Dehiwela also face hardships after the flyover was built. Before the flyover was built their were gaps in the island at the middle of the road and there was no fence in the middle of the Galle Road at Dehiwela. So vehicles who wanted to turn to off roads were able to turn where they wanted from the Galle Road. The below photo shows how the Galle road was there when building the Dehiwela Junction Flyover. The photo after that was taken today and shows the dividing fence at the middle of the road.
But now because the road is divided at the center with a island and fence motorist who want to turn to off road are forced to drive right up to the Dehiwela Junction and come back in the other side of the road before turning to the off road they want to go. This means Dehiwela people are often forced to drive pass their by-roads and back for more than 1km but also adds to increased traffic at the Dehiwela Junction and loss more fuel and time for Dehiwela people. For others who use taxi cabs and three wheelers this has resulted in having to pay extra taxi fees for the additional distance traveled.
So after more than 2 years of the flyovers existence it has not only failed in easing the traffic jams in Dehiwela but also caused additional hardships to people who live and visit the Dehiwela town.