The government said in Parliament on Tuesday they would start work on the Colombo-Kandy expressway soon with financial assistance given by the Malaysian government.
The House debated the issue yesterday as an adjournment motion proposed by UNP MP for the Kandy district Lakshman Kiriella, who urged the government to speed up the work on the project.
Mr. Kiriella said the MoU for the project was signed between the governments of Sri Lanka and Malaysia under the UNP regime of 2003. `Our leader Ranil Wickremesinghe initiated the project after a tour to Malaysia. This expressway will bring benefits to the entire upcountry region. I do not know why there is a delay in starting work on it,` he said.
He said people had to spend at least four hours to reach Kandy from Colombo today under present circumstances, and therefore it was essential to construct this expressway as soon as possible. `In 1994, an industrial zone was declared in Pallekele, Kandy. But, investors are reluctant to go there as it takes eight hours to travel up and down from Kandy to Colombo,` he said.
In reply, Minister of Highways, Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, said they had already started surveying work on the proposed expressway. `It was expected to be completed last month. However there was a delay on the part of the Surveyor Department. I instructed them to finish the process with the help of India if they don`t have the human resources,` he said.
He said they would construct the proposed four lane expressway in two stages-one from Colombo to Ambepussa, and then to Kandy. `The road will be 99.6km. People will be able to reach Kandy within one hour and ten minutes once the expressway becomes operational,` he said. The Minister said a Malaysian company had undertaken to construct it as agreed upon during the previous UNP regime. `We will not spend even a single cent for it. But, we will have to pay for them to use the road,` he said.