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Highways Minister to launch project to widen bottlenecks in Colombo

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Chief Government Whip and Highways Minister Johnston Fernando said that a project would be commenced to ease traffic congestion by widening and developing nine arterial roads connecting Colombo.

Addressing the media at his ministry, the Minister said, “Congestion on main roads in the capital is actually a problem that is mainly caused by the traffic at intersections. We have been informed by road users and general public of such bottlenecks. We also call on the public to express their views and direct their suggestions in the coming days so that we may optimise this project because the road users know better when it comes to traffic-related problems.”

Minister Fernando said that the traffic problem on nine main roads had been identified. “A project has now been commenced at a cost of Rs. 23,380 million for widening roads. The road network surrounding the Parliament complex, Colombo-Horana road, Kaduwela-Malabe-Colombo Road, road from Kiribathgoda to Battaramulla, Colombo-Ambatale Road and widening the intersections on Baseline Road, developing the road system in the North-Colombo area, Wellawatte-Dehiwela Marine Drive, and development of intersections linked to the High Level Road have been identified as top priorities of this project as at now.

“It is only natural that when economic development leads to an increase in the number of privately-owned vehicles. Our country suffers huge economic losses due to traffic congestion. A recent study by scholars of the Moratuwa University has revealed that the economic loss incurred due to the traffic congestion on the roads amounts to around Rs. 397 billion annually. It has noted that the traffic congestion in the Colombo city results in a loss of around Rs. 300 million daily. Accordingly, the losses incurred due to the traffic congestion in Colombo and adjacent areas are around 365 billion per year. The incidental losses due to traffic congestion amount to around Rs. 35 billion. We must solve this problem once and for all.” (SI)



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Debt-ridden CEB goes ahead with shocking pay hike amidst pandemic

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Workers offered 25% increase this year…12% annually over three-year period
 

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Two days after the Presidential Secretariat stated that the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) owed two state banks––Bank of Ceylon and the People’s Bank, a staggering Rs 85 bn, the cash-strapped enterprise announced an annual 12 percent salary increase to its employees.

Vijitha Herath, Chairman, of the CEB, yesterday (15) said that the salary increase in terms of the collective agreement for 2021-2023 period would enable the workers to receive 25 per cent in the first year whereas annually it would be 12 percent over a period of three years.

The ministry said that in spite of severe difficulties caused by the rampaging Covid-19 pandemic, the salary increment was granted in response to workers’ request.

Declaring that the Cabinet and the Board of Directors of the CEB had approved the salary increase, the ministry has sought cooperation of the CEB trade unions to finalise the collective agreement.

The ministry claimed that CEB workers had been granted a spate of privileges not given to other state sector employees hence consensus on collective agreement was expected soon.

The Presidential Secretariat on Sunday explained that one reason for the banking sector crisis was the failure on the part of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) and the CEB to settle Rs 562 bn and Rs 85 bn, respectively.

The Presidential Secretariat issued the statement in the wake of SLPP General Secretary Sagara Kariyawasam, MP, triggering a political storm by demanding Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila’s immediate resignation over recent increase in fuel prices.

The CEB Chairman also claimed that they had been able to bring down the accumulated losses to Rs 56 bn last year from Rs 97 bn in the previous year.

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Indian fishers riled by SL moves to create new fish breeding grounds

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By Dinasena Ratugamage

 

Fishermen from Rameswaran will hold a protest today (16) against Sri Lanka’s decision to submerge 20 old buses in the seas off Jaffna to create breeding grounds for fish.

Members of 17 fisheries associations in Tamil Nadu and Rameswaran claim that this will affect their yield as more fish will be attracted to the breeding grounds created by submerged buses.

The Ministry said that sinking those buses was nothing new and that such buses provided a hard surface for invertebrates to live on, some of which could not live on the sand bottom that is naturally there.

“Some fish are not fast swimmers, so they need a structure to provide both food and shelter; they wouldn’t, for example, be able to outswim a shark, but they could duck into the shelter instead,” a Sri Lankan fisheries association representative said.

However N. Devadas, the head of the Indian fishermen’s association in Rameswaram, said that they would also hand over a petition against that decision to the Sri Lankan government. Sri Lanka has been submerging old SLTB buses in the deep sea for many years as a part of the Deep Sea Fish Development Project.

 

 

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Three more weeks needed to see drop in COVID deaths – Dr. Fernandopulle

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It would take at least three more weeks to see a drop in COVID-19 related deaths in the country, Minister of COVID Disease Control, Dr. Sudharshini Fernandopulle said yesterday.

There had been a drop in the number of cases reported already, she said.

“The number of patients is coming down but there has been an increase in deaths. However, this too will come down.

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