Great road builder:
Opening Expressways to unity and progress
The opening of the Southern Expressway, just a week after the
beginning of the second year of President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s second
term of office, marks the continuing of a successful policy of road
building that has outstripped all records in this sector of growth.
Tallied in the many thousands of kilometres of new roads built, from
rural roads with concrete surfacing, to pre-mix covered arterial roads
and highways, and the many bridges built in all parts of the country, a
good satellite image of Sri Lanka will show an unprecedented network of
roads in the island. These lead to new linkages among regions and
communities, people and traditions, all helping to build the mosaic of a
single and united nation.
With this remarkable success in road building, and the new
Expressways that with the opening to the South, and what is now already
being completed to link Katunayake to Colombo, the Outer Circle Road in
the Western Province and the Colombo-Kandy Expressway soon to be
launched, makes President Mahinda Rajapaksa the greatest among road
builders in the country, far outdoing the achievement of the British
Governor Edward Barnes who was known as the Road Building Governor.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa
He thus takes his place among the greats in Sri Lanka, being recorded
in history as the great builder of roads as King Mahasen was the great
builder of reservoirs.
As he completed 66 years yesterday, with more than 40 years in
politics, rising from the youngest member elected to Parliament in 1970
till he reached the pinnacle of office as Executive President in
November 2005, and gained a second mandate to lead the nation in January
2010, President Rajapaksa takes the Sri Lankan people on new paths of
progress, that seemed far beyond the reach of our people just six years
Defeat of terrorism
Keeping his pledge to free the country from the brutal terror,
defying warnings of both pundits and peaceniks that the defeat of
terrorism was an impossible goal, he brought Sri Lanka and its people to
the new road of peace that had been denied them through more than 30
years; another cause for a special niche in history as one who ushered
peace and united the land. The road to peace he opened was blocked by
political muddling, poor military strategy, the narrow rivalry of party
politics, and the machinations of forces both within and beyond our
shores to keep the country tied to the leash of separatist terror.
Having traversed the arduous roadway to peace the challenge now is to
move ahead with confidence on the highways and expressways to progress.
From physical bridges that span rivers and gorges, there is the need for
new bridges that will bring new understanding of the realities of peace,
apart from the absence of violence and terror.
It is the awareness of the need for the greater understanding and
tolerance among people, who will not be swayed by the slogans of
divisive politics or the calculations of economic power brokers that
have the least interest in the advance of the Sri Lankan nation.
Southern Expressway - Gateway to Wonder. Picture by Roshan
The efforts to realize these goals have not been lacking in President
Mahinda Rajapaksa as he moves to the second year of his second elected
term. An important foundation for this was laid when he appointed the
Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, not long after the
conflict with the LTTE ended and the land returned to peace. Much abuse
has been piled on the LLRC since establishment by a multitude of forces
that had shown anger against Sri Lanka, being determined to serve the
interests of the forces of terror eradicated from this land.
The LLRC’s report handed over to President Rajapaksa is expected to
show the way to true reconciliation among our people, in the spirit of
restorative justice and against a retributive process that would be
Fruits of peace
As he moves ahead seeking to fulfill the mandate he has been given by
the people, Mahinda Rajapaksa will be looked upon with great expectation
to bring to the people the fruits of the peace, that he was instrumental
in bringing to their midst. Forty years in electoral politics, where he
has seen the ups and downs of a representative democracy, he is no doubt
aware of the aspirations of the people in all parts of the land that he
has singularly helped unite.
It was symbolic of this understanding that last Thursday, on the eve
of his 66th birthday, and about to begin his new year in office,
President Rajapaksa presented the students of 66 schools drawn from all
provinces with books and computers for their schools.
He was thus showing them the roads to the new vistas of progress that
are ahead in the New Sri Lanka of Peace. They were gifts that showed the
value of knowledge that comes from books and the computer that is the
principle tool of the new Information Age that Sri Lanka has to move
If winning the battle against terror was full of hardship and
sacrifice, strengthening the peace gained at such a price can be even
more daunting. It calls for leadership that understands the feelings of
the people, and would respond in fullest measure to achieve their
As he received the good wishes of a thousand children who shared the
birthday of the President and wished him all success in many more years
ahead, President Mahinda Rajapaksa has shown that he has a deep feeling
for the needs of the generations that are growing up and yet unborn. We
see it in his commitment to strengthen knowledge and understanding among
people, through education and progress in to the new Age of Technology.
It is the opening of a new expressway of thinking that should take
our people beyond the limits of physical boundaries and into a world of
new opportunity, in the tranquility of peace.