Over Rs.17,140 million allocated for expedited road development programme | Daily News


Over Rs.17,140 million allocated for expedited road development programme

The Government is to launch a new expedited road development programme islandwide on May 12 with a total allocation of Rs.17,140 million to construct 1,970 km of rural roads including 200 bridges.

Each electorate will receive an allocation of Rs. 80 million for the purpose. The Government aims to complete the constructions by the end of August.

The programme titled “Ran Mawath-Connecting Hearts Special Road Development Programme” is an initiative by Highways and Road Development and Petroleum Resources Minister Kabir Hashim.

Minister Hashim addressing a press conference at his Ministry premises yesterday, said development of access roads for religious places, estate roads and roads in the North and the East has been given special attention under the programme.

A sum of Rs 2,950 million has been allocated for North and East provinces under this programme. Parallel to the programme, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has convened a meeting at the Temple Trees to discuss on road development projects in North and East provinces.

He said the new programme would be carried out simultaneous to on-going large scale highway projects in the country.

“According to a recent study, the loss due to traffic congestion in Colombo per day is Rs 1 billion. According to Prof. Amal Kumarage of the University of Moratuwa, we burn up Rs.397 billion of fuel annually due to traffic congestion. Each day, about 300,000 vehicles enter Colombo and out of them 250,000 are private vehicles. About 1 million commuters enter Colombo daily.

“Therefore, we have created plans targeting several main cities to minimize traffic congestion. Within this year, we complete constructing 146 km of Expressways. Phase two of the Central Expressway, constructed by local engineers using local funds, will be opened by September-October this year. The Construction of Ruwanpura Expressway will start this year. In the Colombo city, the Kelaniya bridge expansion project has been started. We will also start constructing Port Access Elevated Highway. We will also build an elevated highway from Kelaniya through Rajagiriya to Athurugiriya. The third Phase of Outer Circular Highway will be completed before the end of this year. We are going to construct two more fly overs in congested areas in Colombo and another one in Getambe. The main traffic congestion in the Colombo city will be cleared in this way,” he said.

The minister, responding to questions by journalists as to why the Government waited till elections around the corner to start this type of road development project, agreed that there was a certain delay owing to the previous Government’s unsettled payments to the contractors and compensation to lands etc.

“We had to take over a cash-strapped Government and a debt-ridden country. So far we had paid Rs.55 billion as compensation to lands that were taken over for road development projects, and out of that Rs.35 billion was paid for lands which were taken prior to 2015. Former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa grabbed lands forcefully for urban development without paying a cent. People were heavily inconvenienced. We paid compensation to them. Among them were those in Sooriyawewa in Hambantota also. We do not construct roads by throwing people out at gun point. We either compensate or let them take a voluntary decision,” he commented.

Highways and Road Development State Minister Ranjan Ramanayake, UNP MPs S M Marikkar and Lakshman Wijemanne and Ministry Secretary Sunil Hettiarachchi also participated.


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