Sept 18, Colombo: State Minister of Highways, Mr. Siripala Gamlath, announced the government’s plan to resume construction of Sri Lanka’s road system halted due to economic crisis.
During a news conference at the Presidential Media Center on the theme ‘Collective Path to a Stable Country’ today (18), the State Minister of Highways said the funding will be allocated in the upcoming budget, ensuring swift completion and delivery to the public.
Expressing his views further he said;
When I took office as State Minister, most of the country’s highway projects had come to a standstill, with significant outstanding payments to contractors totaling approximately Rs.180 billion, equivalent to less than a year’s road project budget. We’ve already disbursed Rs.151 billion, with Rs. 29 billion left to pay, encouraging some contractors to restart projects. Additionally, we’ve settled a substantial backlog of unpaid arrears accumulated over several years.
Our focus in road development is on projects managed by the Road Development Authority, encompassing 12,225 kilometers of roads, 312 kilometers of highways, 5,432 bridges, 12 flyovers, boats and 9 bridge ferries annually. A robust road network is pivotal for a manufacturing economy and enhancing people’s quality of life, necessitating strategic road widening efforts without relying on foreign funding. Substantial annual investments are also directed towards maintaining small bridges and highways.
Highways are indispensable for the country, although the dollar issue impacted the Central Expressway’s construction. The Mirigama-Kurunegala road is now completed and work on the initial 13 kilometers of the Potuhera-Galagedara road, spanning 31 kilometers, is progressing as planned.
In 2019, the critical port access route project began, financed by the Asian Development Bank, featuring a special road running from the New Kelani Bridge to Galle Face. This initiative aims to alleviate traffic congestion in busy areas like Colombo Fort and Harbor, with plans to transfer the port entrance flyover into public ownership by 2024.
In tandem with the national road system construction, significant progress has been made, with 85% completion of the Kohuwala flyover and 35% of the Peradeniya flyover, supported by a Hungarian loan. Out of the 13,160 roads targeted for construction, 5,201 are already completed.
The comprehensive project envisions constructing approximately 17,850 kilometers of roads, with an estimated budget of Rs.231 billion. Of this, Rs.160 billion has already been disbursed for completed projects, leaving Rs. 70 billion pending. Plans include allocating funds in the upcoming budget to maintain existing roads and resume stalled projects, suggesting a promising outlook for timely completion.