July 26, Colombo: Sri Lanka has signed an agreement with the Hong Kong & Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited (HSBC) for a credit facility of US$ 44.14 million to finance construction and rehabilitation of 210 rural bridges across the island.
The Ministry of Finance and Planning in a statement said that the bridges in rural areas of the country will be either constructed or restored to facilitate the mobility of rural and estate sector which has been greatly restricted because of the non-existence of required infrastructure.
Further, most of the bridges in the rural areas are at least 50 years old and maintenance, rehabilitation and new construction have not kept up with the rapid growth in demand for road transport.
The lack of transportation facilities has isolated rural communities and deprived them of opportunities to interact with other communities and to utilize resources available in other areas, the Ministry pointed out.
"Children in rural and estate communities do not get the chance to enjoy the laboratory facilities, library facilities, IT facilities in urban areas or semi-urban areas due to poor transport facilities in these areas," the Ministry said.
The ministry expects the construction of these bridges will connect number of villages and immensely facilitate in creating opportunities for rural and estate communities residing in the remote areas and enhancing their living standards.
Cleveland Bridge UK Ltd, has won the contract to build the 210 steel bridges of 6-30 metre in lengths. The construction is due to be completed in the next three years.
Secretary of the Ministry of Finance and Planning Dr. P B Jayasundera and Mr. John Rankin, the British High Commissioner in Sri Lanka and Mr. Nawalage Sriyan Suresh Cooray of HSBC signed the Credit Facility Agreement on July 24th.