The Economist recently said that I stay in a city not fit to live in; the 10th worst in fact, barely beating Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea), Douala (Cameroon) and Dakar (Senegal), among 140 cities.
Colombo scored badly in the magazine’s annual liveability index, weighed on five broad parameters: healthcare, culture, environment, education, stability (or the threat of crime and terrorist attacks) and infrastructure. Incredibly, there was no report about the government banning the particular Economist issue. Many scoffed at the ranking though. Why?
Pollution is less, healthcare is accessible, the art and culture scene is picking up and the threat of militant attacks is currently zero. There are no queues to be negotiated when paying bills or at the ATM. Within Colombo, power supply is uninterrupted and dial-a-taxi services are usually reliable.
Of course, more could be done to improve each parameter: Colombo needs a better public transport system, roads could be broadened, and especially privately maintained lanes could certainly be paved smoother. Cost of living is really high.
A BBC report pointed out: “beauty-wise, much of it does fall short, especially along one main artery — the fuming Galle Road with a horrible jumble of unplanned, ugly buildings badly weathered by sea spray.’’ But then there are leafy neighbourhoods, charming colonial buildings and the glorious Galle Face Green promenade to strike a balance of sorts against messy urban planning.
Expectedly, as 24-hour military check posts disappear in post-war Colombo, there’s been a slow increase in petty crime, though the incidents I’m referring are largely anecdotal; harassment of women and pub brawls. In spite of such incidents, it continues to be safe and friendly for tourists.
Anyway, these were opinions of biased lovers of Colombo. I will go by the ranking. The Economist uses an intelligence unit to make the rankings; it doesn’t employ emotion. And the $500 report is also used by companies “to determine hardship allowances for relocated employees.’’ I hope my bosses at HT read the liveability ranking carefully before reviewing my compensation package; Colombo is just nine ranks ahead of the worst in the world.