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Colombo Under Curfew: Candid Captures Of A Desolate City

Colombo is usually teeming with activity as people pour into the city for work or school, causing bottlenecks and gridlocks during peak hours. But all of that has now changed as a result of the curfew imposed on the island to contain COVID-19.

While it is not uncommon to see bumper-to-bumper traffic on the Galle Road that runs through Colombo this picture from Bambalapitiya, Colombo 4 shows how empty the road is during the curfew, with only a  few of the government-permitted vehicles used for essential services passing by. 

Among the few—very few—people on the streets, was this lone man carting a cylinder of gas on a bicycle.

This small lorry carrying coconuts stopped to make a quick sale off the side of the road in Colpetty, Colombo 3. 

And we saw a few people venture out to distribute food to forgotten homeless. They even fed the hungry dogs on the street. 

At a makeship stall in the Slave Island, Colombo 1, two vendors prepare vegetables for sale. 

While in Borella, Colombo 8, a small lorry transported fresh fish to homes. 

Before the government issued strong instructions to police to strictly ensure regulations are adhered to (you can read all about it on our LIVE blog)…

….stores that sold gas were open, even while curfew was imposed, with threewheelers parked alongside to accept and deliver orders via the PickMe app that had opened up the facility for delivery during the period. 

It was nice to notice garbage collection was operating smoothly without any hindrance to the public despite the curfew – thank you to all the men and women proving their service! 

Colombo Fort, the central business district, was deserted, except for a lone motorcyclist, and a solitary car. 

Things were a little different at Pettah, Colombo’s best known market place, where most activity continued unabated. 

Here, you can see essential goods being unpacked and transported to shops. 

At one point, things got a little out of hand when lorries transporting essential goods obstructed the way, but cops stepped in quickly to ease the situation. 

A number of wholesale stores were open. 

But on the other side, many of the shops selling non-essential goods were closed. That side of Pettah—usually so busy— looked completely deserted, with only this delivery service bike making a food run.

Since the curfew imposed on Colombo, Gampaha, Kalutara, Puttalam, Kandy and Jaffna is to continue indefinitely until further notice, and other parts of the country also remain on lockdown with only the occasional respite, for the foreseeable future atleast, until COVID-19 is completely eradicated, this is our urban landscape.

Photo Credits: Roar Media / Nazly Ahmed

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