Sri Lanka to begin work on Colombo-Katunayake highway in May

May 11 (LBO) – Sri Lanka is to begin work on the Colombo-Katunayake toll road this month tying up a construction deal with China Metallurgical Construction Group.

Cabinet approval for the project came through on Wednesday, Jeyraj Fernandopulle, Minister of Highways told a Cabinet press briefing on Thursday.

The tentative kick-off date for the building the 25.6 kilometre highway is May 22, with five interchanges and taking just over three years to build.

“The road will cost 292.4 million dollars and is being funded through Chinese Export and Import Bank on a 20 year soft loan, with a three year grace period,” Fernandopulle said.

Toll rates have not been decided yet, but the new highway could cut travel time from over an hour to about 15 minutes between Colombo and Katunayake, carrying traffic at 100 kilometres an hour.

Fernandopulle says the highway project is 39 years behind target, with construction abandoned at one point over controversy in awarding the tender to a South Korean company.

About 30 percent of the highway was completed at the time with Korean construction firm Keagnam, with the government spending 4.5 billion rupees on it.

Recent attempts to jumpstart the project with Asian Development Bank funding also fell through.

– By Zainab Ibrahim