Sri Lanka RDA engineers write to PM over DG demotion

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Sept 28, 2015 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s Road Development Authority Engineers’ Association (RDAEA) has written to the Prime Minister regarding the demotion of the Director General of the RDA as they have not yet received a response from the President’s office, a union official said.

“We have written to the President, and we had a discussion with the Minister. We have now written to the Prime Minister,” Rukshan Rupasinghe, the secretary of the RDAEA, told Lanka Business Online.

“He is a strict official, a disciplinarian, and the type of person we need to put the RDA in order,” he added.

The Director General of the RDA B.V.N. Chandrasiri, appointed in April, was demoted by the new minister to his previous position, a few days after taking over the highways portfolio.

Although this could normally be an attempt to straighten an institution notorious for corruption, it appears to be the opposite, sources said.

The Road Development Authority is responsible for dealing with massive road contracts often financed from international concessionary lending.

Chandrasiri is known for blocking extra-budgetary allocations for contractors, and some said he offered hope for the RDA to clean up its act.

Elected under a mandate to clean up corruption and introduce good governance, this could be the first big mis-step of the new government, an RDA official said.

“The new secretary to the ministry could not work with him, it seems, so has been demoted,” an RDA official said on the condition of anonymity.

The RDAEA earlier wrote a letter to the President about this and the recurring problem of governance in top management of the RDA.

“We have had discussions with the honourable minister. The transfer has been done, now it is too late,” H.M.M. Wijesundara, the president of the RDAEA told Lanka Business Online.

“He has been demoted to his original position,” he said.

The customary practice within the RDA has been to appoint the most experienced official within the organization to the position of director general.

The new minister Lakshman Kiriella, who took over from Kabir Hashim, had taken a decision even before portfolios were gazetted on September 21, Rupasinghe said.

On this basis alone we have grounds for appeal, Rupasinghe said.

“We will have to take another course of action if this letter fails. We have not decided what that is,” he added.