Highways on the road to prosperity
The strong foundation that was laid by President Mahinda Rajapaksa in
2005 as then Prime Minister and the Highways Minister to rehabilitate
the existing road network and to add new highways to the national road
network will see yet another fruitful year in 2012 with more ground work
to be done to herald a renaissance in the road development sector in the
country, Secretary to the Ministry of Ports and Highways Ranjith
In an interview with the Sunday Observer, the newly appointed
Secretary to the Ministry of Ports and Highways Ranjith Pemasiri said
that, with the highest ever allocation of funds amounting to Rs.124
billion for the development of the national road network, the Ministry
will initiate more ground work for the commencement of new highways.
“We are initiating ground work for the commencement of the Colombo
Kandy highway, the extension of Kottawa Matara highway upto Hambantota,
the third stage of the outer circular road from Kadawatha to
Kerawalapitiya while completing the balance construction work of the
southern highway upto Matara and Katunayaka expressway which are going
to be completed in the year 2013”, Pemasiri added.
He said the design work of the Colombo Kandy highway has already been
done and the construction work of the highway is expected to commence
this year as President Mahinda Rajapaksa is keen to start this project
“During the past six or seven years we were able to rehabilitate
about 4500 kms of national highways and at the moment there are about
1500 Kms which are being rehabilitated. In addition, the Express Way
network is also being done. Last year we were able to open the Southern
Expressway from Kottawa to Galle. We were able to continue the works of
the Outer Circular highway and the Katunayake expressway and also we did
the design works of Colombo Kandy Road.
“For the year 2012 our total budget for the Ministry is around Rs.144
billion and out of that Rs.124 billion is for road works for highways.
With that money we are planning to do several road projects that spreads
throughout the country”, he added. With the end of war in the Northern
province, the Highways Ministry has embarked on major road development
there which have not been properly developed for decades.
“In the Northern province we are rehabilitating the main two highways
to the North, Jaffna Kandy A-9 road and Mannar- Pooneryn – Jaffna A-32
road. In addition, main roads, the road that links Mullaitivu in the
Eastern coast with Pooneryn in the Western coast are also being done”,
Apart from that there are some road rehabilitation projects
undergoing in Jaffna peninsula.
“ We have a 1200 km road network in the Northern province and I think
65 percent of that road network is being rehabilitated under these
projects”, he added.
In other parts of the country also the Highways Ministry has
undertaken a massive road development drive to rehabilitate the existing
road network to provide a better drive for the motorists.
“Under these programmes the most famous 18 bend road that is found on
the route from Kandy to Mahiyangana has been rehabilitated and it is
going to be completed within the next few months to provide a smoother
ride for motorists in a scenic environment”, he added.
Puttalam – Anuradhapura road , Badulla - Nuwara Eliya road, Habarana
Kanthale road are also been completed under this project.
The Highways Ministry has undertaken the rehabilitation of the road
network within Anuradhapura city and within Deyata Kirula exhibition
will includes main roads connecting different towns with Anuradhapura
city and the total investment for that includes Rs. 6 billion”, he
added. Under Deyata Kirula program we are spending Rs. 20 billion for
the North Central area and Puttalam - Anuradhapura road , Anuradhapura -
Padeniya road. Anuradhapura Trincoamlee road that is about 105 Km will
also be completed.
For the development of the national road network, the Government is
also taking the initiative to take the participation of the state and
private sector banks to fund the road rehabilitation projects in the
“For the first time in Sri Lanka we are implementing the road
rehabilitation program with local bank funding as state banks and
private sector banks are providing funds for road rehabilitation”,
Dambulla- Habarana road, Anuradhapura – Trincomalee road, Ibbagamuwa
– Madagalla road, Giriulla – Narammala road, Anamaduwa - Uswevagalgamuwa
road, Vaskaduwa Kesbewa road , Tennekumbura – Kandahandiay road will be
rehabilitated under local bank funding.
“The local state and private banks have committed roughly about Rs.25
to 30 billion for these projects”, he added.
He said the local banking funding for the road development sector
comes under 2011 proposal in which the President proposed to have an
investment fund account in each bank.
“Investment Fund Account is based on the revenue earned and the taxes
to be paid to Inland Revenue Department and the loans will be given for
14 and half year repayment period”, he added.
Bank of Ceylon, People's Bank, National Savings Bank and Commercial
Bank have come forward for the funding for these road development
He also added that various other road development projects have also
been commenced under different funding agencies. The work of
Kandehandiya- Hanguranketha- Valapane- Nuwara Eliya- Ragala road which
was initiated by President Mahinda Rajapaksa this month is funded by a
Apart from that Badulla – Mahiyangana road, Mahiyangana-
Padiyatahalawa road, Mahiyangana – Manampitiya road, Galagedara –
Rambukkana road , Kurunegala- Narammala road, Kadahapola -Rambewa road,
Horana – Bellapitiya road, Thiruwanaketiya – Agalawatta road, Thihagoda
- Kamburupitiya- Mawarala road, Hungama – Middeniya road covering the
entire country are also been implemented under different funding
agencies.. “We are identifying these roads for the rehabilitation
according to the road sector master plan from 2007 to 2017 . For that
period we have identified a lot of road links based on our studies”, he
“In addition, after the finalisation of the war we have added the
Northern roads also in to this program. Now we are focusing on changing
this master plan also according to the present day requirement”, he
When developing the national road network, the road safety has also
become a major focus as the speed of the vehicles also increases with
the improvement of the roads.
“Earlier our focus was to bring the road condition to an acceptable
level. That was the main idea. Once we rehabilitate and improved those
roads to a certain level road safety become a major concern because the
speed of the vehicles increases with the development of the road
conditions, propelling more road accidents”, he added.
The Parliament Select Committee to look into the road safety issues
have published a report and have recommended some measures to be taken
in the road development sector.
“This is the road safety decade declared by the United Nation and we
are planning to do road safety measures specially in the Western
province”, he added.
The road safety measures will be taken within a 50 Kilometer radius
covering Colombo Kandy A1 road Colombo, Galle A-2 road Peliyagoda
Puttalam A-3 road and Highlevel A-4 road.
“We are going to have lane marking, pedestrian crossings, lighting,
foot walks for pedestrians, underpasses and overhead bridges for road
safety measures. We are going to do that in a phase out programs and
will be expediting that process in 2012”, he added.
Apart from this, the Highways Ministry is also focussing on reducing
the congestion in the Colombo city.
“We can see the congestion in Colombo even after the completion of
the expressway upto Kottawa. From Kottawa to Colombo we are widening the
road, and also the Pannipitiya - Thalawathugoda road is being widened to
a four lane road. Still there will be congestion and in time to come
that will increase with influx of more vehicles to the country”, he
“As a solution to heavy congestion we decided to do a study in
Colombo city and have some elevated highways or some other measures. For
that we sought a cabinet approval to do a study. A study team will do
different studies in different areas”, he added.
initial thinking is to have elevated highway from Kelaniya bridge upto
Colombo Fort through Colombo Port and another one from Kelaniya through
the Baseline Road. One from Kottawa through A-4 High level road upto
Fort”, he added.
“That is the initial idea and in addition we are planning to have
such a road in Parliament road also. That will take time but once we do
a study we can see whether it is viable or not. I think that is needed”,
The Highways Ministry has also focused on the environmental issues
that may arise due to the massive road development process taking place
in the country.
“Actually we are working with the Central Environment Authority and
we follow their guidelines. In every project we have an environmental
management plan. Based on that only we act”, he added.
“With regard to landslides also we are working with the National
Building Research Organisation. We got their advice.
"Recently we got their advice about Nuwara Eliya Hatton road because
we are going to rehabilitate the road with Korean funding.
"That is a slip prone area and we discuss with the NBRO and they gave
us some recommendations. We are going to implement them. Actually we
work together with those organisations to have a better environment”, he
“What we are hoping is to have a better road network in this country
to gear the country's development drive into a speedy phase according to
the vision of President Mahinda Rajapaksa to make Sri Lanka the Wonder
of Asia very soon.
In this process year 2012 will be one of the landmark years in the
road development ”, he added.