Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Highways and Road Development and Petroleum Resources Minister Kabir Hashim and Ports and Shipping Minister Sagala Ratnayaka look on as officials sign the contract at the ceremony to begin construction on the port access highway with funding from China. Chinese Ambassador Chang Xueyuan was also present – Pic by Pradeep Pathirana
- Elevated highway funded by ADB, to be built by China
- PM says Govt. implemented many projects, has spoken little about them
- Recalls challenging economic situation faced in 2015
- Says infrastructure essential to promote exports, make SL a hub
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday argued that unlike previous governments, many projects had been implemented since 2015, but the Government had not spoken about their accomplishments as much as previous administrations, leading to the public being less aware of the work accomplished.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe made these remarks at the foundation-laying ceremony of the proposed port access elevated highway, with construction to be done by the China Civil Engineering company. The contract between CCEC and the Road Development Authority (RDA) was also signed in the presence of the Prime Minister and Chinese Ambassador Chang Xueyuan.
“We as a Government had to overcome a lot of economic struggles, such as debt, and low exports. We have been striving to create an economy with strong export strategies. All these projects are geared towards making Sri Lanka a central hub in the Indian Ocean. People say we have done nothing. This is not true. We are a Government that has done a lot of things but has chosen not to speak incessantly about it, which is what has created the impression that we have done nothing. The complaint we receive is that the work we do is not talked of,” he said.
The Premier further stated that Sri Lanka cannot keep living in an economy that was made for the 19th century, and that it is time for the country to move forward to a new economy.
He detailed the development projects that were undertaken by the Government, such as the new expressway systems, the multi-modal transport hub, and the development of connecting roads.
“We have also proposed new access roads to enter Colombo, which begins work today. This is the elevated highway that stretches from Kelani Bridge to the Port City. We are also planning to develop a Megapolis in the Western Province, which will eventually become a city that will be renowned as the most beautiful city in the Indian Ocean,” he stated.
This proposed project will finance the construction of about 5.3 kilometres of an elevated toll highway, with related facilities, between the New Kelani Bridge (NKB) and Galle Face in central Colombo.
It will provide a direct link to the city centre and the port from the Colombo-Katunayake Expressway via the NKB, and then extend the expressway network into the city. The project will help alleviate traffic congestion in Colombo’s densely populated areas, improve last-mile connectivity between the country’s expressway network and Colombo’s international port, provide better logistics services for freight operations, and facilitate regional trade.
With a total cost of $ 702.93 million, the project is financed by the Asian Development Bank, The Government of Sri Lanka, and the Japan International Cooperation Agency with $ 300 million, $ 60.2 million, and $ 342.73 million respectively.