Delays from legal issues, political instability and funding have hampered construction RDA Chairman Nihal Sooriyarachchi says
The Road Development Authority (RDA) is optimistic that the problems being faced in the construction of Phase One and Three of the Central Expressway would be resolved in a few months time.
RDA Chairman Nihal Sooriyarachchi told reporters this morning (5 Sept) that part of the delay is because although loans have been received the cash is released to the RDA by the Treasury in stages.
The Central Expressway is constructed in four phases where Phase one is from Kadawatha to Mirigama, Phase two from Mirigama to Kurunegala, Phase three from Pothuhera to Galagedara and Phase four from Kurunegala to Dambulla.
Phase one is constructed by a loan of USD 968 million from the EXIM Bank of China, which is also the largest loan granted by that bank in its history. “So the bank took more detail from us than the other loans,” he added.
According to an agreement with the contracting company of phase one, the contracting company agreed to carry on with the work with their own funds until the other part of the loan is released by EXIM bank.
“The contracting party had only completed 7 per cent of the remaining work in phase one with their money but it can be properly started once we receive the loan money,” he added.
He also said RDA decided to give the construction of phase two to local contractors funded by loans from local banks since they had only been doing subcontracting in past projects.
Accordingly, the construction work of the second phase was divided between 16 local contractors, which also include local consultancy agencies.
He said phase two was planned to be completed by November this year but due to the constitutional crisis in October, last year and regulations brought on explosives after the Easter Sunday attacks the project got delayed by a further 5 months.
He also said that now it the plan is to complete it by March 2020.
Phase three was to be funded by a loan from the Mitsui Bank of Japan, but the loan process got delayed as two legal issues arose in the agreement which was not favourable to Sri Lanka.
These include agreeing on the place of argument or arbitration centres, where the Japanese bank wanted to name Japan as the place of argument but the Attorney General Department was able to negotiate with the bank to name Singapore as the location.
Further, he said that the Pothuhera interchange system was originally under phase three because local engineers did not have the required expertise to construct it but it is now being taken under phase two as local enginers have gained the expertise from building a similar 3 level interchange system in Kadawatha.
Sooriyarachchi said that Phase one of the Central Expressway would take 2 years to complete while the third phase would take 3 years.
The road from Pasyala to Mirigama is being developed as a part of phase two of central expressway so that people travelling to Kandy can go to Mirigama from Pasyala and enter the central expressway as an interim solution till phase one is completed.
Further, he said that RDA has added 146.6 Km to the expressways in the past four years which is a quite good achievement when compared to 171 Km of expressways built from 2000-2014.
This includes the extension of the Southern Expressway by 96.6 Km from Matara to Hambantota which is to be completed in November, Phase three of the Outer Circular Highway which is 10 Km from Kadawatha to Kerawalapitiya to be completed in December and the Phase two of the Central Expressway which is 40 km.
He also added that the RDA is commencing the construction of a 6 km Port Access Elevated Highway next year from Ingurukade junction to Port City, which will connect to the Marine Drive from near the US embassy in Colpetty via an undersea tunnel without disrupting Galle Face Green.