Oct 03, Colombo: Sri Lanka's main opposition United National Party (UNP) says that the proposed Matara-Kataragama railway project is rife with corruption.
Head of the UNP's Communications Division, parliamentarian Mangala Samaraweera said that the Transport Ministry has submitted the relevant Cabinet memorandum for approval.
He explained that the first phase of the project from Matara to Beliatta is estimated to cost US$ 290 million.
"This means a kilometer of the rail track would cost almost US$ 10.7 million, which could easily be identified as a record worth being entered in the Guinness Book of world records," Samaraweera said.
However, he noted that the Mahinda Chinthana policy statement notes on page 117 that a kilometer of the rail track would cost US$ 3 million.
Samaraweera says a kilometer of the track should cost between US$ 2.5 million and US$ 3 million in line with international prices.
According to the government, the entire project, which is to be carried out in three phases, is estimated to cost $366 million and the funds are born by both the government and foreign agencies.
Responding to a request from the Sri Lankan government, the Government of China has agreed to provide a US$ 278.2 million loan through Export - Import (Exim) Bank of China on concessional terms to finance the Phase I of the Project.
In the first phase of proposed Matara-Kataragama railway line, the 26.75km long segment from Matara to Beliatta will be constructed.
In Phase II, 48km-long track from Beliatta to Hambantota will be constructed and Phase III will involve construction of the 39.5km-long segment from Hambantota to Kataragama.
The whole project is scheduled to be completed by 2015.