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Sunday October 1st, 2023

Sri Lanka property developer working to raise high-rise fire safety standards

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lankan property developers are working with government authorities to improve fire safety standards in new high-rise buildings mushrooming in Colombo and other towns, an official said.

Nayana Mawilmada, sector head of John Keells Properties, said concerns over fire hazards in high-rise buildings and lack of capacity of local authority fire fighters to tackle them were valid and being addressed.

“It is an evolving area. We are working hard with the regulators to get the best possible regulations,” he told a forum on the property market.

“It is an area where the government does need to step up its act, where there is a requirement for more policy focus.”

The forum was held by John Keells Properties, together with DFCC Bank, and featured guest speaker Michael Yam, a well-known figure in the Malaysian property industry.

It heard concerns over fire safety in the dozens of high-rise apartment and office blocks mushrooming in Colombo, its suburbs and other big towns in the island, given inadequate fire fighting capacity of local authorities.

Yam said that in Malaysia, developers and city authorities were better equipped to tackle emergencies like fire, being governed by very strict building codes, often of British or American standards.

“Many condominiums in Malaysia have two sets of fire escapes. In most countries there is only one,” Yam said.

“So the building code is important. For example, apartments have fire proof doors. Our track record has been good. We have had hardly any serious incidents.”

Mawilmada said the bigger and better developers were “going the extra mile in building fire safety standards, having more refuge areas and fire escapes.”

“We are working on it. The government needs to look at the property development space as a serious sector that’s going to drive the transformation of the city and help developers.”

Mawilmada said construction costs in Sri Lanka were about 30 percent higher than in Malaysia, driven up by a “ridiculous amount of taxes”.
(COLOMBO, 24 September 2019)

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Sri Lanka National Christian Council opposes Online Safety Bill

ECONOMYNEXT – The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka (NCCSL) in a statement on the Online Safety Bill, said that the existing legal regime is adequate to deal with instances of harmful speech, making it unjustifiable to enact such “stringent laws”.

The Council called upon the government to withdraw the bill immediately.

The body expressed “deep concern” over the proposed bill, detailing its potential to curtail freedom of speech and how, according to the Council, the piece of legislature is inconsistent with the principles of democracy.

“The bill proposes the establishment of an entity named the Online Safety Commission without provisions to guarantee its independence and impartiality,” the statement said.

Chapter 3 imposes restrictions on online communication of certain statements, many of which are vague and overbroad, leaving room for executive control and the curtailing of legitimate criticism and dissent that are basic features of democracy, the statement said.

“The laws granting wide discretion to the executive and its investigative agencies with expansive reach have been misused in the past.”

The Council said that the bill was not drafted with the process of public consultation and discussion, which might have ensured the bill would be less draconian in nature.

“The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka calls upon the government to withdraw this anti-human rights and anti-democratic bill immediately.” (Colombo/Sep30/2023)

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Sri Lanka to implement new vehicle revenue licence issuing system

ECONOMYNEXT – A new system of issuing vehicle licences called eRL 2.0 is to be implemented in 5 provinces, excluding the Western Province, from 3 October onwards.

The new system is to be implemented beginning in the North West, South, North Central, Central and Sabaragamuwa provinces, respectively. The existing vehicle licence issuing system eRL 1.0 will continue to be used in the Western Province.

The issuing of revenue licences islandwide at Department of Motor Traffic head offices and regional branches will be temporarily halted on October 2.

The facility of obtaining vehicle permits online will also be temporarily halted on 6 October till midnight.

The Sri Lanka Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) and the Provincial Motor Traffic Departments are working to modernize the current vehicle revenue license issuance system.

The implementation of the new eRL 2.0 system is expected to be an important step in the digitalisation of Sri Lanka. (Colombo/Sep30/2023)

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Sri Lankan Airlines flights cancelled as aircraft grounded

ECONOMYNEXT – State-run SriLankan Airlines has apologized to passengers who were stranded as multiple aircraft were grounded at the same time.

The airline said it has strict procedures which requires aircraft to be grounded when technical issues are discovered.

“Unfortunately, in this case we suffered a number of groundings at the same time,” the airline said.

“We apologize for the disruption and inconvenience caused and assure all our loyal customers that we are working diligently to minimize such occurrences moving forward.”

The airline said it was booking passengers on other airlines while some have been accommodated at hotels. (Colombo/Sept30/2023)

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