Expressways to be sold to Chinese company – UDAYA
Posted on August 21st, 2017

by Maheesha Mudugamuwa Courtesy The Island

The cash-strapped government was planning to sell the southern expressway, the Colombo Outer Circular expressway and Colombo-Katunayake expressway to China for USD 600 million, Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) leader MP Udaya Gammanpila alleged yesterday.

He told The Island that the three vital roads would be initially handed over to an authority and thereafter sold to a Chinese firm named ‘Shangdong’.

The relevant cabinet paper would be submitted to the cabinet this week, Gammanpila said.

He said, “The government will say that they will not sell the three highways but will go for a 35- -year lease agreement. But, a lease which exceeds ten years is considered a sale.”

This new proposal had been discussed at last week’s Cabinet meeting, Gammanpila said adding that, “At the meeting one retired patriotic Minister came up with the proposal to handover the three highways to an authority to ward off public opposition to selling assets.”

The Southern Expressway was partly funded by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, responsible for the 65 km section between Kurundugahahetekma and Kokmaduwa and the Asian Development Bank for the 161km section between Kurundugahahetekma and Pinnaduwa.

The extension of the expressway to Hambantota was inaugurated in 2015 at a cost of USD180 million which is being funded by the Exim Bank of China.

The Colombo Outer Circular Expressway is funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

The total cost of the Colombo-Katunayake Expressway is USD292 million. Exim Bank of China funded USD 248.2 million of the total cost and the government of Sri Lanka spent USD 45 million on the project.

It’s been only three weeks since the government signed a USD 1.4 billion deal with a Chinese company to lease out a majority stake in a controversial deep port in a bid to slash the debt. The deal was signed after months of renegotiation following strident opposition to the project.

Two weeks ago, the government sought Cabinet approval for a 40-year lease of the Mattala International Airport to an Indian company. The Cabinet paper was presented by Transport and Civil Aviation Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva. An Indian company has made a bid to develop the airport which was built under the previous government with financial assistance from China. In addition to India, Sri Lanka has received a total of eight proposals from various other parties including China.

However when The Island contacted Highways and Higher Education Minister Lakshman Kiriella said there were no such plans to sell any expressway to China.

Refuting the allegations Minister Kiriella said that there had been no Cabinet proposal to sell expressways to China.

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