Friday, September 30, 2022

Sri Lankan officials lobby for Chinese company to get elevated highway project

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According to local media, Sri Lankan authorities from the Roadway Ministry are pressuring the country’s Road Development Authority (RDA) to complete a USD 550 million elevated highway despite an official moratorium on expensive megaprojects.

However, New Kelani Bridge (NKB) is being promoted by the authorities, who are now in private talks with the China Harbour Engineering Corporation, despite the fact that the conditions of the funding arrangement are “seriously unfavourable” to the RDA. Due to the debt default, Sri Lanka is unable to borrow money from China Exim Bank or other lenders right now.

Sri Lankan media reports state that as a result of this, CHEC will arrange a loan for the project that will be paid back by the RDA.

According to the terms of the agreement, which are referred to as a “unique sort of BOT [build, operate, and transfer] deal,” the authority will have to pay much more for the 17 km (4 km) long, four-lane road that would run the entire way on pillars. Additionally, the required environmental impact assessment is not finished.

Attempts to award the contract in question would be in violation of at least one court order suspending the process until the outcome of a legal challenge against the Rajagiriya to Athurugiriya segment on environmental grounds. The Averihena Tank and adjoining paddy fields, which are a component of the Thalangama wetland, will be traversed over more than 3 kilometres of this length.

Due to their “ecological, hydrological, and historical value,” the wetland and its surroundings were previously classified as an Environmental Protection Area (EPA) under the National Environmental Act (NEA) in 2007.

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