Road Cash

July 27, 2010 (LBO) – Sri Lanka has asked for 500 million US dollars from the Asian Development Bank to build a new highway from the island’s capital Colombo which will speed up traffic to the north, officials said. “We are having discussions with the government,” ADB’s country director Richard Vokes told LBO.

“We have been told it will cost 500 million dollars. It is not in our country assistance strategy at the moment.”

He said the government may also discuss with other donors.

Sri Lanka’s Road Development Authority would like to start building the first part of a ‘North East’ highway by May next year if funding comes through, its additional director general projects S Meihandan said.

The planned highway from Colombo to Kandy in the central hills has been singled out earlier as an ideal candidate for a tolling. Vokes said the government had been looking at tolls which will generate income to maintain the highway network.

The government was earlier talking to a Malaysian conglomerate to start a build-operate-transfer deal for the road, but the idea has now been abandoned.

Meihandan said the stretch of highway from Colombo to Kandy is 102 kilometres long and the agency was lo