JVP wants govt to reveal agreement for electric train between Negombo-Colombo

By Dasun Edirisinghe

JVP led railway union yesterday urged the government to reveal the agreement the latter is said to have entered with a Malaysian company to operate electric trains between Colombo and Negombo.

General Secretary of the All Ceylon Railway Employees’ General Union, S. P. Vithanage alleged that Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake had signed the agreement for the project without the knowledge of anyone in the Transport Ministry.

He said that a contract had been signed between the Airport Express Air & Rail Company (Pvt) Ltd of Malaysia and the investors to start an electric train system between Negombo and Colombo.

The contract had been signed by Dr Shawana Khdir Ali, President of Premiere Global Assets Ltd, and Dr Parimalan Rajo Michael (Managing Director of AEARC) with Newport Global Group Ltd (USA). On behalf of Sri Lankan Government, Minister of Finance Ravi Karunanayake participated, the union General Secretary said.

The total value of the investment would be around USD 450 million, he said.

"We inquired about the project from the officials of the Transport Ministry and the Railway Department, but no one was aware of such an agreement," Vithanage said.

He claimed that according to the Railway Ordinance, the Railway Department had the legal authority as regards all railway activities including laying of new rail tracks and agreements signed without the involvement of the Department were legally not valid.

Vithanage said that if Minister Karunanayake had signed such an agreement, it should be revealed to the country and the Transport Ministry immediately.

"We sent a letter to Finance Minister Karunanayake requesting him to reveal his position on the issue," he said.

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