Cabinet nod for projects worth billions ahead of Xi and Abe visits

Friday, 5 September 2014 00:36 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Symbolic agreements will be exchanged: Keheliya
  • Outer Circular Highway, roads for Deyata Kirula, flyover and Southern Expressway extension approved
  • $ 500 m from China Development Bank for 3 projects, Rs. 13 b for 9 roads in H’tota
  • Feasibility study for Ruwanpura Expressway, water supply projects also on the cards
By Uditha Jayasinghe Ahead of landmark visits by Chinese President Xi Jingping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the Cabinet yesterday gave the nod for a host of infrastructure projects running into billions of dollars likely to be signed between the heads of State and the Sri Lankan Government. Key projects include funding for the construction of Outer Circular Highway – Northern Section II running from Kadawatha to Kerawalapitiya. The first phase of the highway was opened in March and funded by the Japanese Government at a cost of Rs. 27 billion. Tagged as the most expensive highway built in Sri Lanka to date in January, the Northern Section II contract from Kadawatha to Kerawalapitiya (length of 9.2 km) was awarded to China Metallurgical Group Corporation Ltd. by the Sri Lankan Cabinet for a value of Rs. 66.69 billion. President Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Finance Minister submitted a Cabinet paper to proceed with “activities related to loan arrangements,” which received Cabinet nod. The signing of the agreement is expected during President Xi’s visit. Construction of roads and flyovers in the Hambantota International Hub Development Project, which is covered under the Southern Expressway Extension Project, were also approved. The roads will cover a total distance of 96km running thorough Matara-Mattala-Hambantota. Under the Hub Development Project, roads and flyovers will be constructed in Sooriyawewa, Galwela Junction and Moraketiya, the Cabinet paper noted. Rs. 13 billion has been earmarked for nine roads under the hub project, according to the Cabinet paper. Arranging funding for the fourth section of the Southern Expressway spanning Mattala to Hambantota via Andarawewa is also expected to be signed, most likely during President Xi’s visit in mid-September. In addition Cabinet also approved over $ 500 million from China Development Bank for three projects. $ 400 m will be given as a loan to the National Water Supply and Drainage Board to implement water supply projects in Kandy North, Katana and Thambuttegama. $ 100 million has been allocated to rehabilitate roads. A third loan will upgrade roads in Matara and Hambantota ahead of the ‘Deyata Kirula’ exhibition in 2015. “Several symbolic agreements will be signed by the Sri Lankan Government during these visits,” confirmed Cabinet Spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella, but declined to give details including the total value of projects likely to be signed. Cabinet nod was also given to begin feasibility studies on the proposed Ruwanpura Expressway spanning from the Kahathuduwa interchange of the Southern Expressway to Pelmadulla. The total length of the highway will be 71km and a Cabinet Appointed Consultancy Procurement Committee will select a service for the study. Ahead of President Xi’s visit, Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Jianchao told reporters in Beijing that both sides would discuss the implementation of the second phase of the Hambantota Port Project along with the proposed $ 15 billion Port City and Colombo City Railway Project. Investment Promotion Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena also expressed intentions to sign a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries during Xi’s visit. The Chinese President will also open the completed $ 1.2 billion Norochcholai coal power plant on 16 September.