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PM to launch several mega construction projects today to ease traffic congestion



A project to construct five flyovers and a four-lane elevated expressway from the New Kelani Bridge to Athurugiriya to ease traffic congestion in Colombo and Kandy is scheduled to be launched by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa today (07).

The inauguration ceremony will be held with the participation of a limited number of people as per the health regulations in place in view of the pandemic.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa will participate at the ceremony via new technology from Temple Trees.

Highways Minister Johnston Fernando said that the implementation of the project demonstrated the government’s commitment to the vision and policies of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour. This year’s budget had laid special emphasis on solving traffic congestion in main cities, the Minister said, adding that as part the project five new flyovers and an elevated expressway from the New Kelani Bridge to Athurugiriya would be constructed.

Flyovers would be constructed at Kohuwala junction, Getambe Junction, overpassing the Slave Island Railway Station to Justice Akbar Mawatha, Uttarananda Mawatha and another flyover connecting two overhead bridges. A flyover would be constructed across Beira Lake and Slave Island to the Bala Daksha Mawatha and another connecting Chittampalam A Gardiner Mawatha. 

Cabinet approval has been granted for these constructions.

The four-lane elevated expressway from the New Kelani Bridge to Athurugiriya is planned to reduce huge traffic congestion created by vehicles coming from the Southern Expressway to Colombo and those from Battaramulla, Kaduwela and Aturugiriya to Colombo. It is 16.4 km in length and estimated cost is Rs 134.9 billion. The construction would be done by the China Harbour Engineering Company in 36 months. The elevated expressway will start from the New Kelani Bridge and runs through Kolonnawa, Rajagiriya, Buthgamauwa, Battaramulla, Koswatte, Pothuarawa, Hokandara to Outer Circular Expressway. There would be inter-exchanges at Orugodawatte, Rajagriya, Koswatte, Hokandara  and at Dematagoda connecting the Baseline Road. There would be another inter-exchange linking the elevated expressway to the Outer Circular Expressway at Athurugiriya.

The Flyover at Kohuwala junction will be constructed with the financial aid from the Hungarian government at a cost of 2,648 million rupees. The overhead bridge would be of 217.30 m in length and 9.4 m in width overarching a four-lane road connecting Nugegoda and Kalubowila controlled by traffic signals. The project is expected to be completed in 22 months.

The flyover at the Getambe junction will be constructed with the financial aid from the Hungarian government at a cost of Rs. 9,451 million. It would be 396.70 metres in length and its branch-flyover would be 285 metres in length. The width of the flyover would be covered in three segments. The main flyover would be of 9.40 metres in length and counted together with the branch flyover the total width would be 12.90 metres. The width of the branch-flyover from Kandy to Peradeniya would be 6.40 meters. In additions the plans have been made to construct the underway enabling two or three vehicles at once and it comprise a 30 meter long four-lane iron bridge from Peradeniya to Kandy. The project is scheduled to be completed in 28 months.

Length of the Flyover at the Justice Akbar Mawatha will be 207 m It would be 8.4 m in width. Flyover at the Uttarananda Mawatha will be 396 m in length and 10.4 min width. The flyover connecting the two aforementioned flyovers would be 310 meters in length and 6.9 meters in width. Total cost for three aforementioned flyovers is estimated at 5,270 million rupees. It is planned to be completed in 12 months and construction work of the flyovers would be by Maga Engineering Pvt Ltd.

The Flyover across Beira Lake and Slave Island Railway Station connecting Bala Daksha Mawatha and Chittampalam A Gardner Mawatha is planned to be completed in 12 months. It will be 360 m in length and 11 meters in width. The total construction cost is Rs 2,730 million and the work is to be completed by the Access Engineering PLC.

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Lift restrictions on 21 June, and be prepared for dire consequences – Medical Specialists



By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Association of Medical Specialists (AMS) President Dr. Lakkumar Fernando yesterday urged the government to reconsider its decision to lift the travel restrictions on 21 June on account of the detection of the Indian or Delta variant of COVID-19 in the country.

Speaking to The Island yesterday, Dr. Fernando said: “The Ex-Co and COVID committee of the AMS met on Thursday before it was announced that the Indian variant had been found in the community, and we decided to ask the government to continue the travel restrictions until 28 June.”

The AMS President added that the detection of the Indian variant from Dematagoda was an alarming development as the Indian variant was more transmissible than the UK variant.

“Reopening the country even after this detection is a very bad idea. We detected the UK variant on 08 April 2021 but we allowed people to celebrate the New Year. I feel that the government is repeating the same mistake,” he said.

Dr. Fernando urged the government to have discussions with a broad section of experts in the coming two days and take a more informed decision as we are likely lose more valuable lives if we are not careful enough in our decision making. “I don’t think the government has sought advice from experts,” he said.

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SLPP will not let disputes with Gammanpila undermine govt.



…will vote against SJB’s no-faith motion

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) yesterday (18) said that whatever the differences the party had with Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) leader and Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila, it would not undermine President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s government. A senior SLPP spokesperson said so when The Island sought their response to Samagi Jana Balavegaya planning to move a no-faith motion against attorney-at-law Gammanpila over the recent increase in prices of fuel.

The SJB early this week declared its intention to hand over a no-faith motion against Gammanpila to Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena. Already, the JVP and the UNP have questioned the SJB’s exercise.

The SLPP stood solidly with the stand taken by its General Secretary attorney-at-law Sagara Kariyawasam, MP, in respect of Minister Gammanpila, the official said. According to him, SJB’s certain defeat at the forthcoming vote should not be considered an endorsement of the energy minister.

However, the SJB would not be allowed to exploit the dispute between the party and Minister Gammanpila, under any circumstances, party sources said. The SLPP has been in touch with SLPP strategist Basil Rajapaksa, currently in the US, throughout the conflict, sources said.

The SJB’s no-faith motion would be easily defeated, sources said, pointing out that the SLPP group in the government parliamentary group accounted for 115 excluding the Speaker. The SJB parliamentary group comprised 54 members, including seven National List appointees. One of the NL members, Diana Gamage has switched her allegiance to the SLPP.

Sources revealed that on behalf of the SLPP group, the General Secretary of the party, lawmaker Kariyawasam discussed the developments with SLPP leader Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The SLPP group is expected to meet coming Monday (21) to reach consensus on a settlement. Sources said that a no holds barred discussion was with MP Kariyawasam getting an opportunity to explain his stand.

Referring to a statement dated June 12 issued by MP Kariyawasam demanding Minister Gammanpila’s resignation, SLPP underscored the need to set the record straight.

The SLPP General Secretary did not challenge the fuel increase announced by Minister Gammanpila as the party realized the government had no other option, sources said. However, there was no change in the SLPP’s stand in respect of Minister Gammanpila as he did nothing to improve the energy sector coming under his purview, sources said. The SLPP alleged that Minister Gammanpila had done nothing except taking advantage of gullible media.

Responding to another query, sources questioned the rationale in a recent statement issued by eight political parties, affiliated to the SLPP, in support of Minister Gammanpila. Except one political party therein, other parties comprised just one lawmaker each. There were two National List members, too among that eight-member group, sources said, adding that PHU, was represented in parliament by just one MP (Gammanpila.)

Sources said that the SLPP felt that there should be a consensus among the main party and its constituents on major policy decisions. Sources questioned the National Freedom Front (NFF) and the PHU pursuing an agenda inimical to the government. How could they take a different stand on some contentious issues publicly having been members of the cabinet of ministers, sources asked, accusing them of sabotaging key policy decisions.

The SLPP emphasized that the ruling coalition would have to reach a consensus on a common agenda or face catastrophic consequences.

Sources alleged that Weerawansa-Gammanpila led group sabotaged an agreement the incumbent administration worked out with India on the East Container Terminal (ECT) of the Colombo Harbour.

Asked to explain, sources said that the previous Sirisena-Wickremesinghe had finalized agreements in respect of Mattala airport, ECT, remaining tanks at the Trincomnalee oil tank farm and LNG plant at Sampur with India. Following the last presidential election, the incumbent government decided to go ahead with only the ECT project in the Colombo South Harbour.

The SLPP said that the agreement on ECT was certainly not a popular one though it could have helped efforts to revive the national economy. But, Weerawansa-Gammanpila group as usual played politics with the issue at hand and took credit for stopping the project.

Sources said that the country would have faced eternal blackouts if the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa gave into pressure meant to stop Norochcholai coal-fired power plant.


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1,390 more lockdown violators arrested



The police had arrested 1,390 persons who violated lockdown regulations on Thursday (17), Police Spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana said. The bulk of the arrests numbering 172 were made by the Kuliyapitiya Police, 133 by Matale Police and 121 by Kandy Police.

The police have arrested 38,311 people so far for violating quarantine regulations since 30 October 2020.

About 6,797 people were questioned at checkpoints set up at 14 entry and exit points in the Western Province on Thursday and 108 of them were warned and sent back for attempting to cross provincial borders in violation of the current travel restrictions.

Meanwhile, the Police are planning to carry out a special operation during this weekend to arrest those who violate health regulations by increasing mobile patrols, roadblocks and motorcycle patrols, DIG Rohana added.

Drone operations too will be conducted in Colombo and suburban areas to identify individuals who violate lockdown rules and regulations.



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