Highway robbery?
Posted on September 14th, 2017

Editorial Courtesy The Island

The central expressway project is riddled with corruption, the JVP tells us. We don’t intend to question the veracity of the Rathu Sahodarayas’ claim because they are quite au fait with the affairs of the present government as one of the yahapalana allies. It may be recalled that they were represented on the National Executive Council, which was formed after the defeat of the previous administration, to usher in good governance among other things! What one gathers from the questions they raise in Parliament is that they are privy to the findings of the special investigative units, established by the present government to probe corruption under the Rajapaksa government. Never has the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government called into question the accuracy of information the JVP comes out with in Parliament about corruption; instead, it promptly acts thereon to pillory its political enemies before having them arrested. So, there is no way the government can claim that the JVP has got it wrong only where the central highway issue is concerned.

One of the main allegations the UNP used to turn public opinion against the Rajapaksa government and engineer the 2015 regime change was corruption in the expressway projects. Curiously, the yahapalana government has not had the questionable highway deals under the previous dispensation investigated. It owes an explanation. There has been a role reversal with the Rajapaksa loyalists in the Joint Opposition (JO) now making the same allegation against the yahapalana leaders. The JVP has been demanding to know whether the central expressway will be made of gold, given its massive cost.

The successful anti-corruption campaign launched by the UNP and its yahapalana chums including the JVP caused the Rajapaksa government to lose elections. The present administration is not holding elections for fear of losing them!

Chairman of the Sri Lanka Podu Jana Peramuna Prof. G. L. Peiris, too, has told the media that the government has, paying no heed to Technical Evaluation Committee recommendations, decided to award the contract for building the Central Expressway to some Japanese companies in a questionable manner and the country will suffer a huge loss.

True, corrupt deals under the previous government stank to high heaven and the JO heavyweights did their damnedest to defend them albeit in vain and vilified the anti-corruption activists including the then Opposition members. But, that should not be a reason for the incumbent government to ignore the serious allegations of corruption against its own members.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told Parliament the other day that the present government had been able to slash the cost of the central expressway project considerably. If so, there is no need for the government to fear a probe. The general consensus is that the previous government launched mega development projects unlike the present dispensation, but there were massive cost overruns like that of the Uma Oya project and corruption was rampant. The present administration undertook to conduct investigations thereinto and bring those who had lined their pockets at the expense of the public to justice. But, it has not made good on that pledge. Is it because, after being ensconced in power, it has found that ‘the streets are paved with gold’ and does not want to order probes lest they should not be able to benefit from kickbacks?

Let President Maithripala Sirisena be urged to order an investigation into the central expressway project issue.

Meanwhile, Japan promptly responded to Sri Lanka’s distress call when the Meethotamulla garbage dump collapsed in April this year. It rushed in a team of experts here to carry out an investigation and submit a report. It has to act equally fast as regards the very serious allegations against some of its companies which have been named by the Opposition, and get to the bottom of it.

One Response to “Highway robbery?”

  1. NAK Says:

    Yesterday Sirisena played a drama on TV on the question. Got a mother of a thief to explain it and explain he did.

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