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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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Death threats won’t deter us – EC Chairman

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Nimal Punchihewa (Chairman ECSL) picture by PRIYAN DE SILVA
Chairman of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka Nimal Punchihewa told The Island that members of  the election commission won’t be deterred by death threats.
He said that members of the commission  M M Mohamed,  K P P Pathirana and S B Diwarathne have been repeatedly threatened and the police have not been able to apprehend the perpetrators.
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Three people dead after torrential rain in New Zealand

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At least three people have died due to flash flodding in Auckland (picture BBC)

BBC reported that at least three people have died and one is missing after New Zealand’s largest city experienced its “wettest day on record” on Friday.

Auckland is said to have received 75% of its usual summer rainfall in just 15 hours.

A local state of emergency was declared as authorities managed evacuations and widespread flooding.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Chris Hipkins thanked emergency services for their swift response to the disaster.The new prime minister travelled to Auckland, where he also expressed his condolences to the loved ones of those who died in the floods.

“The loss of life underscores the sheer scale of this weather event and how quickly it turned tragic”, he said in a news conference on Saturday afternoon.

The downpour flooded the airport, shifted houses and resulted in power cuts to homes for hours.

New Zealand’s defence forces were mobilised to assist with evacuations and emergency shelters were set up across the city.

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Parliament prorogued on Friday night

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President says cabinet agreeable to fully implementing 13 A until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment

Parliament was prorogued from midnight Friday (27) by President Ranil Wickremesinghe under powers vested in him by Article 70 of the Constitution, parliamentary sources said on Friday.

The Department of Government Printing was due to issue the relevant notification on Friday night but it was not out as this edition went to print.However the President’ Media Division (PMD) confirmed the prorogation on Friday evening saying that President Wickremesinghe “is expected” to make a policy statement based on the decisions taken after the 75th Independence anniversary when parliament recommences on Feb.8.

A separate bulletin said that the president had informed the party leaders Conference on Reconciliation that the cabinet was agreeable to “fully implementing (the) 13th Amendment until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment.”

Parliamentary sources explained that a prorogation which is a temporary recess of parliament, should not extend to a period of more than two months, However, such date for summoning parliament may be advanced by another presidential proclamation provided it is summoned for a date not less than three days from the date of such fresh proclamation.

Political observers believe that the prorogation is related to the president’s effort to secure as wide a consensus as possible on the National Question. They dismissed speculation that it is related to the scheduled local elections. This issue was clarified by the PMD bulletin.

When parliament is prorogued, the proclamation should notify the date of the commencement of the new session of parliament under Article 70 of the Constitution.During the prorogation the speaker continues to function and MPs retain their membership of the legislature even though they do not attend meetings of the House.

The effect of a prorogation is to suspend all current business before the House and all proceedings pending at the time are quashed except impeachments.A Bill, motion or question of the same substance cannot be introduced for a second time during the same session. However, it could be carried forward at a subsequent session after a prorogation.

“All matters which having been duly brought before parliament, have not been disposed of at the time of the prorogation, may be proceeded with during the next session,” states the paragraph (4) of article 70 of the constitution.

In the light of this constitutional provision, a prorogation does not result in an end to pending business. Thus, a pending matter may be proceeded with from that stage onwards after the commencement of the new session.

At the beginning of a new session all items of business which were in the order paper need to be re-listed, if it is desired to continue with them.At the end of a prorogation a new session begins and is ceremonially declared open by the president.

He is empowered under the constitution to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each session of parliament and to preside at ceremonial sittings of parliament in terms of the provisions of paragraph (2) of article 33 of the constitution.The president is empowered to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each new session. In the past, it was known as the Throne Speech which was delivered by the Governor-General.

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