Expressways will not be privatised – Minister Kiriella


by Maheesha Mudugamuwa

Higher Education and Highways Minister Lakshman Kiriella yesterday said that the government was exploring the possibilities of improving the efficiency of the management of existing highways.

In addition, the government was planning to obtain Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to build new highways as well as to develop the present road network, Minister Kiriella said.

He was responding to rumours to the effect that the government was planning to handover the Southern Highway (from Kottawa to Godagama), the Katunayaka Highway and the Outer Circular Road from Kottawa to Kadawatha to a private company.

Last month Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) leader MP Udaya Gammanpila also alleged that the government was planning to sell the above mentioned highways to China for USD 600 million.

Minister Kiriella said that there was a suspicion among employees of the Road Development Authority (RDA) and other interested parties that the administration of the highways are to be handed over to outside parties.

Refuting the allegations and rumours, the Minister noted that attention had been drawn to obtain the participation of qualified and able parties to rectify some weaknesses in highway management at present.

At the end of this exercise, the government would make arrangements to obtain the views and opinions of the employees of the RDA and other parties, he added.

Minister Kiriella stressed that the government had not taken any decision to handover the administration of highways to the private sector.

However MP Gammanpila alleged that the government was planning to hand over the highways to an authority and thereafter sell them to a Chinese firm. named ‘Shangdong’.

The relevant cabinet paper was submitted to cabinet in August, Gammanpila said, adding that the new proposal had been discussed at the Cabinet meeting.

The Southern Expressway was partly funded by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, responsible for the section between Kurundugahahetekma and Kokmaduwa and the Asian Development Bank for the section between Kurundugahahetekma and Pinnaduwa.

The extension of the expressway to Hambantota was inaugurated in 2015 at a cost of USD 180 million which is being funded by the Exim Bank of China.

The Colombo Outer Circular Expressway was funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

The total cost of the Colombo-Katunayake Expressway is USD 292 million. The  Exim Bank of China funded USD 248.2 million of the total cost and the government of Sri Lanka spent USD 45 million on the project.

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