Missing Miles

April 01, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lanka is in talks with the Asian Development Bank on ways to raise funds to build the last stretch of a key highway linking the island’s south with the capital Colombo, a senior ADB official said. The highway, meant to link the capital Colombo with the town of Matara in the deep south of the island which has suffered decades of neglect, is scheduled to be completed by 2010.

More than 35 percent of the highway has now been built.

The project is meant to greatly reduce travel time and promote easier movement to and from the southern areas to Colombo, which should increase economic activity. The ADB’s Country Director for Sri Lanka, Richard Vokes said the talks were on how to fund the last 30 kilometre stretch of the southern highway for which no funds have been allocated.

Parts of the southern highway, mostly funded by the ADB, are under construction albeit years behind the original schedule.

Vokes said the talks focussed on guarantees by the bank and government on funds.

“We’re discussing additional support for the southern highway. The last part has not been worked on. We’re looking to see how to help.”

He said it was the ADB which suggested the talks as part of a