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March 30, 2007 (LBO) –The Japanese will give 30-year loan to Sri Lanka to build a link highway that will connect the Colombo-Matara to the Colombo-Katunayake expressway a government minister said.

The Japanese Bank for International Cooperation will give 21.917 billion yen (19.7 billion rupees) loan to build a 4-lane stretch of the connecting highway, Information Minister Anura Yapa told reporters Thursday.

The townships in Makumbura, Kadawatha and Kaduwela areas will also be developed to accommodate the families that have been displaced by the building of the Southern expressway while the 12 Kilometer stretch from Kottawa to Kadawatha is also being built, he said.

The yen loan carries a 10-year grace period with 1.5 percent interest per year.

The proposed highway will connect the Southern Expressway at Kottawa and the Colombo-Katunayake Expressway at Kerawalapitiya.

The 126 Kilometer Southern expressway project that has suffered delays and court battles in acquiring land and paying compensation to resettled families is now underway.

The total cost of the expressway to Matara is estimated at 300 million dollars.

The Colombo-Katunayake expressway has been slow t