Jan 28, 2016 (LBO) – Indian government backed IRCON International has expressed its willingness to assist Sri Lanka’s railway development in line with the priorities of the transport sector, a company official said.
Commemorating their 7 year presence in Sri Lanka, Project Director S L Gupta told reporters Wednesday that the timely completion of their projects led to further partnership in infrastructure development, mainly in the Northern Province.
IRCON started its Sri Lanka charter with the mandate to upgrade the Kalutara – Galle – Matara coastal railway line in March 2009.
The 114 km long project was funded through an Indian line of credit and was completed in 2012.
In 2010, Indian Government provided an 800 million US dollar credit line to restore 265 km long railway line and to install a signaling system in the Northern Province.
“The Line of Credit is a very soft loan with interest rate of LIBOR plus 0.5%. There is 20 year repayment period with a 5 year moratorium.” Gupta said.
The final segment of the Northern Railway Line from Madhu to Talai Mannar Pier was inaugurated last year by the Indian Prime Minister.
Denying recent allegations against them Gupta said they are maintaining adequate resources to meet its Defect Liability Period obligations as a few projects are still under warranty period.
IRCON International came under heavy criticism after railway unions and individuals claimed that it inflated cost of Sri Lanka railway projects.
Gupta stated that it is not appropriate to compare the cost and quality of one project to another as the project details are different from each other.
As part of the Northern Railway projects, the company has also handed over six new locomotives to Sri Lanka Railways.
“The new railway tracks are designed with a speed potential of 120 kmph.” Gupta said.
He further added that the Government of Sri Lanka should make all efforts to ensure that the trains can cover the distance from Colombo to Jaffna and Colombo to Trincomalee in 4 to 4.5 hours.
“It is also of paramount importance that every Government should leave no stone left unturned to develop rail transport,”
“Because it is the most fuel efficient, safe, customer and environmental friendly mode of transport, ensuring all round development of the country.” he added.