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DateLine Sunday, 23 March 2008

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Peerless engineering feat

Flyover at Peliyagoda - a new world record:

The workers with yellow hats and in uniforms were attending to diverse tasks at the site of the Kelaniya Railway Crossing North Flyover. Despite the pouring rain, the site seemed to be alive with overseeing engineers testing the concrete mixtures and directing workers to attend the tasks at hand, from time to time.

It is the rare occasion that Sri Lankan engineers together with their co-workers proved it is possible for them even to break world records if and when concerted effort is made with the application of appropriate technologies.

Among other things, Kelaniya Flyover shattered into pieces the widespread myth that foreign experts are an indispensable component in major constructions and that the Sri Lankan professionals though equal in qualifications and experience, are somewhat inferior to their foreign counterparts.

However, little regard has been paid to the fact that Sri Lankan professionals such as Dr. H.N.S Kulathilaka, Dr. Sarath Gunapala, and Prof. Wimal Dissanayake (and many other professionals) have proved their capabilities internationally.

If the optimal working conditions and financial backing is provided, local experts perform well in major construction projects, contributing to government's present drive for rapid development, especially in the areas of mass constructions in infrastructure development.

It is obvious that the principle difference that make Sri Lankan expatriate professionals rather comfortable in achieving tasks at hand than their counterparts in Sri Lanka is because of the excellent working conditions together with a good remuneration package the were offered by their employers and not because of differences in qualification on the part of Sri Lankan professionals.

If Government is intending in creating a indigenous technology and a knowledge base in vital areas such as construction, food technology, IT, it is imperative that working conditions for Sri Lankan professionals should be further improved, offering them decent remuneration package.

For instance, the Super Structure which was imported from UK and fixed on to the Flyover in Kelaniya can also be constructed locally if the necessary funding is provided.

The construction of the Kelaniya Railway Crossing North Flyover which was commenced on and scheduled to complete by March 25, 2008 is an ample demonstration of the capabilities of Sri Lankan engineers and the local construction consortiums which are now par with their counter parts in developed countries.

The Flyover with 320 metres in length and 8.85 in width is nearly completed qualifying it to be the fastest built Flyover in the world.

Except for the Super Structure which is built by Mabey & Johnson of UK, the entire Flyover is being constructed by a dedicate team of Sri Lankan engineers together with extremely industrious workers who work round the clock to reach the target. The local partner in the venture is Access Engineering Ltd.

For the Flyover steel weighing 450 tones and 800 cubic meters of concrete have been used in addition to the steel used for the concrete which is 80 weights.

The entire foundation and the sub-structure of the Flyover was designed and commissioned by a team of Sri Lankan engineers.

"Though we were aware at the commencement of the work, of the present world record in constructing Flyover, we were simply concentrating on the task. That is to complete the Flyover by March 25, 2008. If we were asked to complete the work earlier than March 25, 2008, we are still ready to achieve that target.

Sri Lankan engineers are capable of constructing any complex structure whether it is a bridge or a Flyover.

The task is made easier by the co-operation and the discretion given by the Access Engineering for the top manager empowering them to make quick decisions on the site. 'Besides this Flyover, the company has undertaken to construct 4 Flyover in Kelaniya, Panadura, Negombo, Mahawa and Wattala.' said Senior Project Engineer Iyantha Sirisena who was quite happy with the progress so far achieved.

Currently a workforce consisting of 115 minor workers and ten engineers on site who are supervising the process of construction ensuing that the construction conforms to the international standards.

The project is jointly funded by a grant of United Kingdom and Government of Sri Lanka.

An era of technological revival similar to one where remarkable engineering feats such as Yodha Ela, were accomplished can herald if the government intervenes in a big way to improve the working conditions of Sri Lankan professionals, it would not only help in putting an end to the mass migration of professionals but also would help to attract Sri Lankan professionals domiciled on foreign soil to return to Sri Lanka and to make a substantial contribution to Sri Lanka.

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