Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa inaugurateed work on several flyovers and an elevated highway via new video technology from Temple Trees yesterday. Highways Minister Johnston Fernando is also in the picture. (Picture courtesy Highways Ministry Media Division)
The Government is ready to face any challenges that it confronts even during the pandemics and disasters, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said yesterday.
He said the Government is aware of the difficulties faced by the public when the travel restrictions are imposed, but the public is requested to support the Government’s programme of protecting the lives of the people.
The Prime Minister was addressing the ceremony to begin the construction of the 16.4 Kilometers- long New Kelani Bridge – Athurugiriya road and six flyovers in Colombo and Kandy, held at the Temple Trees yesterday.
Due to the prevailing pandemic situation and travel restrictions in force, the opening ceremony was held online under the patronage of the Prime Minister.
The Flyovers will be constructed at Kaduwela Junction, Justice Akbar Mawatha in Slave Island, Siri Uttarananda Mawatha, Baladaksha Mawatha, Sir Chittampalam A Gardiner Mawatha and Getambe Junction in Kandy.
The Prime Minister said those projects are intended at providing long-lasting solutions for the heavy traffic congestion in those areas. This is also a proper solution for the time wasted on roads.
The road from New Kelani Bridge to Athurugiriya is constructed by the China Harbor Engineering Corporation at a cost of Rs.135 Billion. The proposed new flyover projects are funded by the Government of Hungary.
As per the promise given to the public under the Vistas of Prosperity election Manifesto, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has given instructions to the Prime Minister, the line ministries and relevant officials not to suspend any development project due to the pandemic situation, PM Rajapaksa further said.
He also requested the opposition not to mislead the public by spreading baseless information and thereby seek narrow political advantages.
Minister of Highways Johnston Fernando also participated on this occasion.
Addressing the inauguration of construction of five flyovers and elevated highway from the New Kelani Bridge to Athurugiriya, the Minister said that during the presidency of Mahinda Rajapaksa 13,000 kilometers of roads had been developed. “Today is a historic day. This day adds to the annals of our country because of the revolutionary changes being inaugurated today to change the country’s road network. It was under the leadership of Mahinda Rajapaksa the country’s road network was introduced to revolutionary changes after Sir Edward Barnes. Under his presidency 13,000 kilometers of roads were developed. That was done while fighting a brutal war to a successful end. It was Mahinda Rajapaksa who introduced the expressway culture to this country. If there was no 2015 electoral setback, the country today would have completed its master plan of developing the entire road network. The five-year period under the Yahapalana government put on hold all development projects including the development of the road network. Under our government, we put the development drive back on track and the country is being developed on a fast track while there are effects of global pandemic. Today we are launching several key projects to ease the traffic congestion in the capital and its suburbs and Kandy as promised in President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour programme. These projects will eradicate traffic jams and save valuable time of people otherwise spent on roadblocks during daily rush hours. We have identified traffic congestion as one of the major causes that holds back the country’s development drive.
I take this opportunity to thank the president, prime minister and all ministers of the cabinet, secretary to the president Dr PB Jayasundara, Treasury Secretary S.R. Attygalle and secretary to my ministry RWR Pemasiri for their untiring efforts to make this success. I also thank China Harbour Engineering Company for their assistance at trying times like this while a pandemic is ravaging the world to come here with their funds and assisting our nation. Soon after this project was given the Cabinet approval, the opposition shouted that we have given the road to China. They said the same when the prime minister laid the foundation stone for the Colombo Port City project. None of this country’s assets has been sold under the leadership of Mahinda Rajapaksa. The opposition does not know any politics except slinging mud. They did the same when the Hambantota Port was being constructed. But when they came to power they gave the Hambantota harbor away for two leases of 99 years. I am sure such a thing would not have happened if Mahinda Rajapaksa was the leader of this country in those years.
When Mahinda Rajapaksa was building the Southern Expressway Anura Kumara Dissanayake said that road was for the purpose of bringing Ambul Thiyal and curd and honey to Rajapaksas from their home. Today Dissanayake too could use that road to bring Ambul Thiyal to his home using that expressway. They were spreading various lies in their mudslinging campaigns prior to 2015. After that they hatched various plots to take revenge on members of the Rajapaksa family. They did no governing of the country except avenging their political opponents. If they did anything in addition to that was selling the national assets off and placing the national security in jeopardy by dismantling the security network. The Yahapalana Government is now known as the government that placed the nation in insecurity and harm’s way. Now they give lectures on how to run an economy and the country.
Today we have many challenges before us. One of them is the COVID-19 pandemic. We are confident that under the dedicated leadership of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa we can overcome that challenge. When we came to power we had the challenge of salvaging the economy and taking the country back on the path of development. We did it in a very short time. We also restored national security to its former status. The members of opposition did not want to face the general election because they knew that they would lose. They tried to hide behind the excuse of the pandemic and blamed the government for holding elections. People of this country were with us. They gave us a resounding victory with two-thirds majority power in Parliament. It was under the electoral system created by JR Jayewardene that we recorded that victory.
The mud-slinging campaign of the opposition that was in its heights during the period prior to 2015 is now back in operation after 2019. They raised various wild allegations including that trees are felled in the Sinharaja. When the pandemic was raising its head and we tried to introduce vaccines, they spoke against it and told us not to convert the country into a testing lab for vaccines. Now the former health minister Rajitha Senaratne says that if they had been in power they would have completed two-thirds of the treatment process. Had they been in power in a time like this they would have finished two-third of the population of this country. It is those who destroyed this country in a period of five years now giving us lectures on how to run an economy and counter the pandemic. People have not forgotten the way they had converted this country into chaos. Those who voted for us have still not given up their hopes on us. They have their confidence in President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s leadership. They know that we can steer the country out to safety and prosperity from these troubled times.
We hope to complete their work in 12 months. We know that people blame the government whenever there are traffic jams. That problem would be solved once and for all in 12 months. There would be flyovers in Kandy and Kaduwela. China Harbour Engineering Company plans to complete the elevated highway construction in 36 months. We call on all constructors to work round-the-clock to complete the tasks before them on time.
A survey by the University of Moratuwa has found that 40,000 vehicles travelling daily from Kelaniya to Athurugiriya would be benefitted by saving their time after completing this project. That would be a major achievement economically. The new roads not only ease the traffic congestion but also will increase the value of lands nearby them.”