The construction of a new road to Jaffna from Colombo via Mannar through Pooneryn at an estimated to cost of Rs 2,500 million had commenced, Transport Minister T. B. Ekanayake said yesterday.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa has instructed the Treasury to release funds immediately which would be subsequently reimbursed through fundings by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
Eighty kilometres of the new road are being demined. A 4-km stretch had already been de-mined by the security forces, Ekanayake said.
He told The Island that the opening of the highway would be a boon not only to the security forces who have to undergo much difficulty in transporting troops and supplies by air or sea but also to civilians.
This highway would also go a long way in building the North-South unity by helping build bridges between the communities, reopen industries, build infrastructure facilities, bring down the cost of goods on either sides and make businesses on both sides to flourish, the Minister said.
`We were able to take eight local contractors from the South to Pooneryn and draw a plan for a four lane highway, which will have two lanes initially, Minister Ekanayake said.
`We told the contractors that we would divide the highway into eight sections with eight contractors assigned to construct those sections so that the road will be in operation before long` he said.
Preparations are also underway to reconstruct 600 metres of the damaged Sangupiddy Jetty.
The Chief Engineer of the Road Development Authority (RDA) of Jaffna district V. Sudhakar said that a team from his office had carried out an assessment of the damage to the 17-kilometre stretch of highway on this side of the Jaffna Peninsula from the Y. junction on the A-9 Kandy road upto Karaitivu Jetty.
He said that the jetty which had been damaged and in disrepair had to be reconstructed to be used for the new land route which has been estimated to cost Rs 1.16 billion. The report had been forwarded to General Manager of the RDA K. Premasiri in Colombo, he said.