Starting next month, the Road Development Authority (RDA) will apply a coat of white paint on all zebra crossings in the island, a move which saw many questioning the need, often referring to it as a callous waste of state funds.
It was announced this past week, that all yellow pedestrian crossings in the country would be painted white in accordance with international standards, under the supervision of the Ministry of Transport and the RDA. The main reason cited for the change was that yellow pedestrian crossings are hard for drivers to spot, particularly at night.
Accordingly, the pedestrian crossing in front of the Western Province Education Office is slated to be repainted white on December 1, while a ceremony will be held in Green Path on December 3, to repaint the zebra crossing in front of the Colombo Municipal Council.
“The RDA will not spend a cent on this initiative, I will vouch for it,” Chairman, RDA, Nihal Suriyarachchi told the Sunday Observer. “We routinely paint zebra crossings every year, and this year we are merely repainting it in a coat of white paint.”
He said, the RDA did not wish to make a spectacle of a routine maintenance work, but it had tied up with the Rupavahini Corporation, who have declared a Road Safety Week in the first week of December.
“Rupavahini is conducting an awareness program and the RDA is merely tying up with this project. The RDA does not host ceremonies, and all funds for the event will be undertaken by the TV station and the Colombo Municipality,” he said.
“There will also be no road closures, the RDA has a systematic way of repainting these crossings, without inconveniencing the general public. The Authority will go about this initiative just as it has been doing all these years,” Suriyarachchi said.
He added that the RDA has requested a year to complete the inititaive since it was solely undertaken by the Authority.
“We will not call for fresh tenders for the project, as we have sufficient white paint. The RDA will go about it as if it were a routine maintenance work and nothing more,” he said.
Pedestrian crossings in Sri Lanka are akin to danger zones, where over 900 people are said to have been run over during the last 10 years. National Council for Road Safety (NCRS) Chairman, Dr. Sisira Kodagoda said. “At least one person dies every five days at a pedestrian crossing”, he said.
Earlier this year, the NCRS decided to remove as many as 55 pedestrian crossings in Colombo, in specific high-risk areas, consequent to a study into the number of accidents occurring at these crossings.