New southern highway opens in Sri Lanka
The Southern Expressway is the first and the longest expressway of the proposed expressway network of Sri Lanka.
It runs from Kottawa to Matara, a stretch of 128 kilometers with 4 lanes, and is being completed at a cost of Rs. 85 Billion
There are eleven interchanges to the Expressway, 8 of which between Kottawa to Galle, and 3 interchanges between Galle and Matara. These interchanges are located at Kottawa, Kahathuduwa,Galanigama, Dodangoda, Levanduwa, Kurundugahahetekma, Baddegama, Pinnaduwa, Deegoda, Kokmaduwa and Godagama
The Police Department will deploy around 500 personnel for duties along the Expressway, and a special Police Division has been formed for exclusive expressway duties after it is opened to traffic, Senior DIG Traffic Management and Police Field Force Headquarters Radio cars and motorcycle patrols will be on round the clock all days duty under this Police Division.
The Southern Expressway is the single largest road development project in the country launched with an investment of Rs. 85 billion. It is also one of the most controversial projects due to land acquisition, resettlement, geological issues and lapses in construction of underpasses. A child fell victim to a poorly constructed underpass that collapsed in Poddala on the Kurundugahahetekma-Pinnaduwa stretch mid this year. A compensation of Rs. 5 million was made to the family by the contractor Kumagai Gumi Co. Ltd. Prof. Thishan Jayasinghe of the Department of Civil Engineering University of Moratuwa and a member of the committee appointed to investigate the incident said metal arch structures are solid if they are built according to specifications. The probe by the committee revealed that the underpass collapsed due to the violation of specifications by builders.
Resettled villagers are content with the compensation package they received and the livelihood and income restoration programs launched by the Government. Jinadasa Satharasinghe who lives in a shared land said he is happy with the resettlement and the community development programs implemented in the area. ADB Country Director, Richard Vokes said the bank helps in carrying out all community based activities and they are being constantly reviewed. Around 180 families have been resettled in the ADB funded 30 kilometre stretch from Kurundugahahetekma to Pinnaduwa. Approximately 19 kilometres of the ADB funded section of the STDP has been completed and the entire stretch will be completed by mid 2010.
The ADB made a supplementary loan of US$ 90 million to its original loan following the design restructure plan for four lanes and the cost escalation. The original loan of the ADB was US$ 90 million to construct a two lane access control highway from Kurundugahahetekma to Godagama.
Secretary to the Ministry of Highways and Road Development and National Security Adviser, Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda said the construction delay was due to resettlement and geological issues but now steps have been taken to expedite work on the project and ensure its completion on time".
"The tariff structure for the road usage will be determined subsequently with Cabinet approval", Ministry officials said.
Project Director, STDP S. Meihanda said remedial measures have been taken to mitigate the impact on the environment due to dust, vibrations, lack of water and drop in quality. The largest road development project in terms of length the STDP will help accelerate economic development in the Southern region, improve transportation, reduce fatal accidents on the A 2 highway and security against potential tsunami in the North and South of the Western coast. Increase in tourist arrivals, commercial establishments, agricultural development, prices and stable markets for local produce and rise in land value are some of the other benefits envisaged through the project.
The STDP is the first access controlled expressway which connects Colombo-Kottawa to Matara with access from the Pinnaduwa interchange to Galle. Vehicles could enter the expressway through eleven interchanges.
The project comprises several components which are funded by the ADB, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Nordic Development Fund (NDF), Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and the Government of Sri Lanka.
The Government is currently negotiating with the Export and Import Bank of China for financing of section four of the expressway. Work on the full project is scheduled to be completed by mid 2011.