Opposition upset over possible ADB-LTTE agreement on A9 road rehabilitation

The opposition yesterday expressed serious concern over obvious LTTE bid to enter into an agreement with a key donor agency which has pledged funds to improve the Kandy-Jaffna A9 road.

The donor agency and the LTTE have already held talks in the Wanni in a bid to agree on ways and means of carrying out the proposed project to improve the A9 road re-opened on April 8 under the Norwegian arranged MoU between the government and the LTTE.

"They(LTTE) have apparently made a series of suggestions in this regard," a senior opposition spokesman said, adding that the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the LTTE have held talks on the proposed improvements to the road. There would certainly be further discussions, the source said, adding that the LTTE would seek to come to a written agreement with the ADB.

The ADB has agreed partly to fund the project, the source said, while criticising the government for allowing a major donor agency to hold direct talks with the LTTE.

ADB Country Director John Cooney recently announced that the bank would provide a $3-4 million loan to fund the project which will be carried out by a private firm contracted by the Urban Development Authority (UDA). Cooney met with senior LTTE representatives including men from the Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO).

Opposition sources said that the LTTE would be seeking to reach a series of separate agreements not only with the ADB but other international donor and relief agencies.

The ADB has discussed the A9 project both with the government and the LTTE in the past few weeks. (SF)