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Johnston: New project underway to ease traffic congestion

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Chief Government Whip and Highways Minister Johnston Fernando said that road networks of Colombo and other main cities in every district would be developed by integrating and redesigning them using the latest technology to make traffic jams a thing of the past.

Speaking at a meeting held at the Ministry of Highways yesterday (12) on finding solutions to traffic congestion in Colombo and main cities, the minister said that with the number of vehicles increasing day by day, roads of the main cities had become congested and traffic policemen were overworked.A new project would be introduced to end traffic jams by managing vehicular flows by introducing new entry points and alternative routes with new roads in and around the main cities.

 The new project would be implemented first in the cities of Colombo, Kandy, Gampaha, Galle and Kurunegala, Minister Fernando said, adding that it would be gradually introduced to the other main cities in every district. A recent research by the experts at the University of Moratuwa has revealed that from 2008-2018, the number of buses increased by 36 percent and the number of other vehicles increased by 130 per cent in the country.

 “We incur  massive financial and man-hour losses due to traffic congestion due to the absence of proper traffic management in Greater Colombo areas and the loss has been estimated to be over Rs 32 billion a year. Our country is losing 1.5 percent of the GDP due to traffic congestion. Our road network in the city is not capable of handling increasing traffic flows. We have identified nine main roads leading to Colombo and suburbs for the first stage’s development. Similarly, 15 such roads in and around the Gampaha city, 12 roads in Kandy and eight roads in and around Galle would also be developed to solve the traffic congestion in those cities. In addition, two new bridges would be built across the Ittepana and Madu rivers to end traffic congestion in Galle by introducing an alternative route. In order to end traffic congestion in Kurunegala city an alternative route would be constructed while developing the outer-circular road and introducing flyovers at Yangalmodera, Alawwa, Mahawa and Muththettugala,” the Minister said.

 Minister Fernando said that people of Colombo and surrounding areas had blamed successive governments for their failure to tackle the issue. The new project would solve their problems, he added.

 Among those present were Secretary to the Ministry of Highways R.W.R. Pemasiri, Chairman of the Road Development Authority Chaminda Athaluwage, Director General of RDA Sardha Weerakoon and top officials of the ministry (SI)



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Central Bank urged to save collapsing local industries

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The National Freedom Front (NFF) has requested the immediate intervention of the Governor of the Central Bank Ajith Nivard Cabraal to save micro, small and medium scale industries badly affected by the current economic downturn caused by the Covid-19.

The NFF parliamentary group comprises six members, including one National List.

Industries Minister Wimal Weerawansa, on behalf of the SLPP constituent parties, has warned of steep increase in unemployment, drop in the contribution made by small and medium scale industries to the national economy and the further widening of the gap between the rich and poor.

Party sources told The Island that the NFF had decided to take up the urgent matter because, in spite of repeated promises, those who had been severely affected were yet to receive assistance. Minister Weerawansa has urged the Central Bank to restructure loans obtained by affected industries and also extend the moratorium.

Weerawansa has in a letter dated Oct.18, told Cabraal that according to a survey conducted by the Industrial Development Board, micro, small and medium enterprises suffered serious setbacks. However, of the loans made available through the banking sector, a substantial segment had been disbursed among major players, the Minister said, while pointing out that in other countries in the region more than 50 percent of total loans were made available to micro, small and medium industries.

Unfortunately, here in Sri Lanka they received approximately 15 percent of the total given as loans, the minister said.

Minister Weerawansa said that though industries suffered, almost all state and private banks had recorded much improved performances with significant profits.

The Minister said that following his intervention with the cabinet of ministers, the government agreed on a plan of action to deal with the situation. It would be the responsibility of the Central Bank to implement the agreed proposals, he said.

(SF)

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So far no side effects among Pfizer vaccinated 15,000 A/L students

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Over 15,000 GCE AL students had been vaccinated with Pfizer and there had not been any side effects, Colombo District Director of Health Dr. Dilip Liyanage told the media yesterday.

He said that the Ministry of Education had given them a list of 20,688 that needed to be vaccinated.

“We would like to assure parents that there is no need to worry. Over 15,000 children have been vaccinated and there have been no problems so far. Trust the health professionals and vaccinate your child at the first opportunity you get,” he said.

Dr. Liyanage added that children who missed their chance to get vaccinated on weekdays, can get vaccinated at the MOH office near their home.

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Govt. approves prohibition of cattle slaughter

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The government has approved the prohibition of cattle slaughter. The decision was announced at the weekly Cabinet meeting at the Information Department yesterday (19). The government said the relevant laws and regulations, including those passed by Local Government authorities would be amended for that purpse.

The Legal Draftsman has drafted Bills to amend the following acts and ordinances.

• Authority 272 of the Cattle Slaughter Ordinance No. 9 of 1893

• Act No. 29 of 1958 Concerning Animals

• Municipal Councils Ordinance – Section 252

• Section 255 of the Municipal Councils Ordinance

• Ordinance No. 15 of the Urban Council Act of 1987

The Attorney General has certified that the said Bills do not clash with the provisions of the Constitution.

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