I am only people s guardian - President
* I am a leader who keeps my promises
*East today is seeing development hitherto unseen
*LTTE atrocities are over
President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday emphasized that he was no King but was a guardian of the people. Addressing a large crowd following the commissioning of Sri Lanka s longest bridge, in Kinniya, the President said when he came to this function he saw some hoardings and posters which had the title King before his name. I am no King but I am the guardian of the people today, tomorrow and in the future, President Rajapaksa said.
Along with the Kinniya bridge, the President also commissioned the Irakkandi bridge. The bridges have been constructed at a cost of Rs. 790 million and Rs. 713 million respectively. It was also revealed during the meeting that various political leaders had laid foundations to build the Kinniya bridge on 18 previous occasions. However, it was the lucky 19th foundation laid by President Rajapaksa as the Prime Minister in 2004 had seen a successful conclusion.
I am a leader who always keeps my promises. I would do what I say and would not say anything which I can t do, the President told the cheering public.
The Kinniya bridge considered as the longest bridge to be built across a lagoon and the Irakkandi Bridge is described as another dream of the Eastern polity. The new Kinniya Bridge was a long-felt need of the people of the Eastern Province. It links Horoi-Adi and Kinniya in Trincomalee.
Earlier to reach the mainland of Tricomalee, people of Kinniya, Muttur and Thopur had to use the hazardous and dangerous journey of travelling in a ferry. The only land based route to reach Kinniya earlier was the long trek through Thambalagamuwa.
The President reverting to Tamil midway during his speech to the delight of the large gathering, said the East today is seeing development hitherto unseen in the province s history.
He added that everybody who came to East was impressed by the scale of development.
Not only East but North too is being developed like the rest of the country, the President added.
President Rajapaksa emphasised that the Government had not neglected the development of the country, but had started mega development projects of ports, roads and other infrastructure even during the conflict period. Five harbours are coming up in the country simultaneously for the first time in its history.
Thousands of kilometres of main roads, by-roads, inter provincial roads and rural roads have been developed. Major express ways are in progress or near completion and several power plants at Kerawalapitiya, Norochcholai, Upper Kotmale, Uma Oya and Trincomalee have been launched, the President said.
Vast strides have being made in the fields of health, education, agriculture etc. in line with the Mahinda Chinthana policy framework, he said. Large irrigation schemes are coming up to supplement the Api Wawamu Rata Nagamu program to supplement agriculture, he highlighted.
The President also noted that no differences such as caste, religion, ethnic etc. should prevail in the country hereafter.
He added that the atrocities by LTTE terrorists which brought many a hardship to the people of the North and East and the rest of the country were over. The people are free today, he added.
The Kinniya bridge which is the longest bridge constructed in Sri Lanka across a lagoon will link Trincomalee with Kinniya, enabling civilians to cross the Kinniya lagoon to reach Kinniya and Muttur areas.
The bridge is 396 metres long and 10 metres wide with two lanes. It provides 7.4 metres width for vehicles and 1.5 metres for pedestrians. The bridge was built by the China Auto Caiec Ltd with financial assistance from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Irakkandi bridge will link Trincomalee with Pulmodai. It was constructed to replace the old bridge destroyed by the tsunami across the Irrakkandi Lagoon.
It is 300 metres in length and seven metres wide with two lanes of 1.5 meteres. The Spanish Government has donated funds for this effort.
The two bridges were constructed under the Eastern Province Reawakening Program to provide transport facilities to the people living in the Eastern Province who have undergone hardships due to terrorism for the past 30 years.
Both efforts were supervised by the Highways and Road Development Ministry.
Yesterday s event was also attended by Saudi Arabian Ambassador in Sri Lanka Aziz Abdul Rahman Al Jammas. He also addressed the gathering. A Saudi delegation accompanied him.
Ministers Rishard Bathiudeen, Ameer Ali, Susantha Punchinilame, M.L.M. Athaullah, W.B. Ekanayake, T.B. Ekanayake, Vinayagamoorthy Muralideran and N. Abdul Majeed, Governor of the East Rear Admiral Mohan Wijewickrema, Chief Minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan, North Central Chief Minister Berty Premalal Dissanayake, and Highways and Road Development Ministry Secretary, former Navy Commander Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda also participated. Religious dignitaries of all faiths along with area political leaders and the public too were in attendance. Minister N. Abdul Majeed who hails from the area gave mementos to both the President and the Saudi Arabian Ambassador as a token of the people s appreciation.