An Expressway covering the entire country – A new impetus to revive the Economy from 2020-2025:
Posted on September 24th, 2019

Courtesy The Island

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* A new elliptical expressway parallel to the coast at a distance of about 40-50 km from it, around Sri Lanka.

* New expressway to provide easy access to both coastal belt and hinterland.

* A single expressway from Medawachchiya to Kilinochchi.

* Fast-tracked construction to be completed in five years.

* Project investment likely to be a massive boost to the entire economy.

* Project investment to be generated from funds saved as a result of reduced rates of interest due to sound management of the economy.

* Economy to reap a host of other short and long term benefits.

* People have a responsibility to elect leaders who are capable of implementing projects and positively dealing with emerging challenges.

An elliptical “circular” expressway for a county shaped like an ellipse

Sri Lanka is a country in the shape of an ellipse. While the central part is mountainous, the rest of the island is a flat plain. The distance from the North to the South is about 420 km, and from the East to the West, it is about 220 km at the maximum point.

Based on these geographic factors, if an expressway is to be constructed in the most practical and cost-effective manner to cover the entire country, it is logical that it must be in an elliptical shape, parallel to the coast at a distance of 40-50 km from it. It is possible that the Northern point of such New Elliptical Expressway (NEE) could be close to Medawachchiya, the Southern point close to Kirama, the Eastern point close to Pokurugama and the Western point close to Mirigama. As the feeder to the NEE, many of the existing roads can be easily connected to it as “entry” and “exit” points.

Already, there are highways from Kadawatha to Godagama (144 km) and Colombo to Katunayake (25 km). In a few months, a connecting highway will be seamlessly linked from Kadawatha to Kerawalapitiya (10 km), and another from Godagama to Hambantota (75 km). Once those sections are completed, the Expressway system of Sri Lanka will be completed from Katunayake to Hambantota, in close proximity to the coast. At the same time, since a considerable length of highway spanning the districts of Gampaha, Colombo, Kalutara, Matara and Hambantota has already been completed, it may now therefore be more practical and sensible to connect such existing highway to the NEE, without constructing the section of the proposed NEE parallel to the coast from a distance of 40-50 km in those districts.

Therefore, Kudaoya may be considered the possible starting point of the NEE connecting to the present highway from the South, while Mirigama may be the chosen Northern starting point. When that is done (as shown in the map), the NEE will run 40-50 km parallel to the coast covering a distance of around 500 Km through the hinterland avoiding forest and wildlife regions, historical and archaeological sites, densely populated areas and special places of attraction to local and foreign tourists.

The land area to the North of Medawachchiya is of a triangular shape, and therefore, the construction of an elliptical expressway beyond Medawachchiya will not yield a cost-effective advantage. Accordingly, a single direct expressway of about 105 km at the centre of that area providing access to both sides of the triangle can be built from Medawachchiya to Kilinochchi and connected to the NEE, so that it becomes an integral part of the NEE. Once this Medawachchiya/Kilinochchi section too is constructed, the entire country will be fully connected through a 100 kmph expressway system comprising a total of about 859 km.

The maximum travel time from one

point of Sri Lanka to another will be

only about 5 hours…

If a “connected” expressway is constructed as described above, any person from any part of Sri Lanka will be able to gain access to the NEE easily after travelling a distance of a maximum of 50 km from any part of the country, coastal or hinterland. For example, if a person wishes to travel from Siyambalanduwa to Mannar, he will travel a distance of about 30-40 km on ordinary roads, enter the highway at a suitable entry point, cruise along the highway, exit from Vavuniya, travel a further distance of about 30 km on ordinary roads and reach Mannar. Similarly, a person travelling from Balangoda to Trincomalee can first take an ordinary road covering about 40 km, enter the highway from an entry point near Kuda-oya, cruise along the highway, exit from an exit point near Demataweva and reach Trincomalee after finally travelling a distance of about 40 km along ordinary roads. In this manner, a person will be able to travel any long distance easily from any point in the country, where maximum time spent on travelling from any point to point, not being more than five hours.

The investment required for

this Project ?

The Southern Expressway from Kottawa to Godagama is 124 km. Its cost (incurred during 2007 to 2013) is reported to be USD 892 million. That is, USD 7.2 million per km. Therefore, we may reasonably assume it will be possible to construct the proposed NEE at a cost of around USD 7.2 million per km, since the terrain through which the proposed expressway is to be constructed is somewhat similar to that of the Kottawa/Godagama Expressway. The length of the proposed elliptical part of the expressway as shown in the map is about 500 km, while the section from Medawachchiya to Kilinochchi is about 105 km. Accordingly, the total length of the proposed NEE works out to approximately 605 km. Hence, the total cost of the Project may be estimated at around USD 4,350 million.

In order to implement such a project, it will also be necessary to undertake a scientific and geographical survey of the land lay-out and contours and decide on the proposed path of the highway. Such an exercise is likely to take at least one year and the expenditure covering the technical and architectural consultancies and other evaluations may amount to around USD 200 million. Further, if the project is to be fast-tracked to be completed in five years from 2021-2025, a sum of around USD 870 million per annum (or Rs 157 billion) will have to be invested by the government on physical earth works, infrastructure construction work, etc. Although such annual outlay may appear to be a considerable investment, it will not be such a daunting task for the government to raise the total requirement of funds from existing sources, if the public debt is managed in a sound manner.

Sri Lanka’s Gross Domestic Product exceeds Rs. 14,000 billion and the public debt exceeds Rs. 13,000 billion. The existing stock of Treasury Bills and Bonds amounts to Rs. 5,500 billion. Hence, if the authorities are able to successfully reduce the Treasury Bills and Bonds interest rates to a level close to the level that existed at the end of 2014, the rates will be tightened by about 3% p.a, which alone will save a sum of around Rs.165 billion per year for the government. Incidentally, such saving will be more than the annual requirement of Rs. 157 billion for this NEE Project!

It may be recalled that the previous government was able to save such large amounts of money through the proper management of the Sri Lankan economy during the term of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, and these surpluses were utilized for various development projects. Further, the shift of funds to investment will lead to a massive economic revival that will be visible and tangible across the economy, with new economic activities being spurred on by such investments.

The investment on the ‘NEE’ will infuse new life into the economy that is now in shambles !

Once the NEE is completed, there is no doubt that many areas of the country that are today identified as “difficult areas”, will undergo rapid development, since the entire country will become inter-connected.

Businessmen and entrepreneurs will locate their business establishments and factories throughout the country. Investors in the tourism sector will take a renewed interest in constructing hotel complexes and tourist infrastructure facilities in all parts of the country. International investors will find Sri Lanka a hugely attractive location. The consequent economic progress will cover every village, while the present beleaguered building contractors of high, medium and small scale constructions will enjoy a new lease of life. The beneficial impact of such a revival will soon trickle down to other sectors as well. Thus, the proposed expressway project will be a tremendous boost to the economy of the country.

The people, too, have a

responsibility!

At present, Sri Lanka is trapped in a serious economic downward spiral. The economy is paralysed and has no direction. The current leaders have not introduced any worthwhile strategy in a manner that generates any business confidence. Even on the rare occasions where various projects have been suggested, those have failed miserably, since there has been no strategy to raise the funds necessary to implement such projects.

From 2006 to 2014, Sri Lanka’s economic managers secured the required resources for the massive development projects launched and implemented during the term of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Money circulated freely and confidently within the country. There was never a shortage of funds for the war, reforms, rehabilitation, resettlement, development, relief measures and repayment of debt. That government faced a plethora of challenges which it faced through systematic planning and strategic implementation of such plans. As a result, unprecedented improvement took place in infrastructure; Interest rates and inflation were at manageable levels. The Sri Lankan rupee was stable as never before (or after) in history. Overall, all macro-economic fundamentals were on a sound footing.

For a country to progress, it is necessary that there should be far reaching proposals that are realistic, useful and beneficial to the people of that land. If that happens, the entire country will become a dynamic worksite. This proposal for the NEE is aimed at achieving that end. At the same time, there is no doubt that there will be many challenges when this proposal is implemented. Many crucial decisions will have to be taken. At that time, lamentations and excuses, similar to those that the leaders of the current government make on a daily basis, will be of no use. Therefore, it is the bounden duty of the people to entrust the governance of the country to leaders who have a proven record of facing challenges and who are knowledgeable and experienced. That responsibility will need to be taken seriously by the entire population.

7 Responses to “An Expressway covering the entire country – A new impetus to revive the Economy from 2020-2025:”

  1. Dilrook Says:

    Voters rejected these plans in 2015.

    Any new road must complement the existing road and rail network, not go against it. $5 billion is a massive waste of money given the debt trap Sri Lanka is in since 2012.

    This road network also goes against the natural water flow direction resulting in more floods and very expensive bridges. There will be at least 200 bridges escalating cost to the double of what was stated to $10 billion.

    Strangely the road avoids the areas some call “Tamil Eelam”, “Nazarstan”, “Safistan” and “Malaya Nadu”! Why is that! In the north it goes alongside existing A9 which doesn’t add anything new.

    Instead invest in agriculture and food production – the backbone of Sri Lanka’s economy, food security and employment. Even the most developed countries are investing heavily in agriculture.

    Invest in teaching English, Japanese, Korean, Arabic and German to the population which will complement our foreign earnings essential to help the country get out of the economic crisis.

  2. Randeniyage Says:

    Promise of another MAHA SALLI MANKOLLAYA.
    Surely would benefit me personally, if this happens, but I have to make every effort to avoid it.
    I know all these LOAN funded projects are MAHA SALLI MANKOLLAYAS.

    I need not repeat, Dilrook has unveiled the hidden agenda.
    Instead of investing in the teaching of languages Dilrook mentioned they will surely be investing in accelerated TAMIL language program to Sinhala kids, so that they can work in Tamil Nadu.
    I am feeling extreme sad for my country and its people, rather than all important removal of 13A, this group is carrying on with the same so called Devilopment as before, after proving that Mahajanaya was WRONG in 2015.

    We have to impose fear of failure in these people and get our major demands into their agenda instead. Time is running out.

  3. Ananda-USA Says:

    I am FULLY IN SUPPORT of such NATIONWIDE EXPRESSWAY BELT circling the Nation!

    It will enable the transport of goods and provision of services throughout out the country enabling rural areas to profit from the needs of population centers without having to setup shop within expensive areas within the population centers.

    I, myself, proposed such a system over 20 years ago after recognizing the impact that the National Highway System of the United States had on the growth of the US economy, generating a return on investment that was thousands of times larger than the original investment.

    This would be a GREAT INITIATIVE, I commend Mr. Cabral for proposing it at this time when the POLITICAL opportunity to implement such a FANTASTIC PRJECT may arise in the NEAR FUTURE!

    IGNORE the jaundiced NAYSAYERS; the WORLD BELONGS to Patriotic INNOVATORS and courageous RISK TAKERS!

  4. aloy Says:

    If Central Expressway is completed that will be more than enough for now. This is like “Pudakotama kapi yakaa”. What s needed is to maintain law and order and make sure our income is not wasted on white elephants and also keep the trouble makers in N&E at bay. However that should be done not by bribing them with infra like what MR and Basil did when they were in power, at the expense of rest of the country. Our industrialists and businessmen will do the rest. Make conducive atmosphere and confidence for them to invest in the country instead of going to countries like Miyanmar, Vietnam etc.
    Look at how countries like South Korea, Malaysia and Thailand did. They allowed their local companies to study what is needed in other countries and allowed their industrialists do the manufacture. We need not spend on research either. That will only give room to useless people (with doctorates) who have done nothing previously to waste our money and resources. Institute of Fundamental Studies is one such example.

  5. Randeniyage Says:

    Definite disaster and distraction from national issues such as North and East issues. Creation of more Wilpattus.

    Surely, there will be an artificial growth rate to show off ! Then the final death. Absolute idiotic proposal.

    What economic activity road/ bridge construction will give ? Let me explain.

    Southern Expressway

    Destroyed a large area of rise fields. Created flooding. Benefited foreigners who came to work.

    My friend was simply one of the few ‘experts’ who went there from overseas for a year at a salary of US$30000 per month. According to him he did almost nothing, he sub contracted the work to another foreigner Sri lankan at a salary of US$5000 per month but could not do the required reports. Then he subcontracted it to a Sri lankan man who did it well. What a waste of public money ! This is simply one example. There are other experts surely did the same. As I said before ADB is a HORA GUHAWA. They employ unqualified people most form Philippines or poorer European countries.
    If you remember, there were failed bridges which had to be strengthened/ reconstructed.
    Loaned money for consultancy is astronomical and it completely goes back to Catholic countries.
    Local experts will be treated like dust but allowed to get rich by taking PAGA.

    However, GDP growth will go up. Why ? Because what is counted in GDP growth is the “money spent” only. It will be added to growth under ‘construction” sector.

    After the project, these expressways did not add any productivity increase. Public buses for general public were not allowed. Few Luxury buses were too expensive. Ran in 5% capacity during week days and 30% in weekends. Almost 10 years after it does not add to productivity of the country. Income from levy is not sufficient to pay the loans.

    Benefited China, Philippines and Australia.

    However, some ex-SriLankans who did not even contributed by paying for dual citizenship may see it like “development” as they can come , celebrate with friends, stay is luxury hotels, cut down travel times, eat, drink and dance at the cost of poor people of Sri lanka.

    A complete betrayal of motherland.

    Another friend from a developed country who doesn’t even have dual citizenship worked for the Central Expressway for year or more but came back before completion ( I suspect something happened) and arranged me to continue, I refused because I consider working in such projects is against “Samma Aajiva” and betrayal of the land.

    Heaps of local companies have mushroomed being agents to some so called “experts” who can contribute little. All these jobs can be done by locals if LAW and ORDER is esablished (top to bottom).

    A different class of “locals” has emerged since 2009, who have become “managers” in running these LOAN PROJECTS at double the costs to public.

    I invite our friends here to watch the COPE proceedings.

    This is the same in countries like Indonesia but less corruption than ours.

  6. Dilrook Says:

    Even if you borrow tens of billions of dollars and give it to kasippu drinkers the GDP will go up. So the GDP goes up even if you waste borrowed funds on white elephants. But this is temporary. You have to keep borrowing and wasting to keep this model which we follows since 2009.

    It does nothing good to people’s quality of life, net income and the nation’s external net wealth. All these things suffer.

    The proposed highway avoids touching “Tamil Eelam” for obvious reasons, destroys prestine forests, blocks waterways, divides communities and ruins the economy further.

    MCC will be signed by whoever wins the election. Then look what this road does to Sinhalese.

  7. aloy Says:

    This morning when I put my TV on the first thing I heard was that two women have died on Southern Expressway.

    At the opening time of that expressway there was a discussion in this forum where more than sixty comments were posted. And I had the worst battering when I said the design of the expressway was not up to standard of a normal expressway. At that time I had not even traveled on it. I based my observations on a picture that appeared on an online news paper. They have tried to save money by making the shoulder (the asphalted area outside the two lanes) only one meter wide, eliminate the verge (the area outside the asphalted area and the guardrail), giving virtually no space between the inside guardrail and the inner white line and most importantly making the lanes narrow. However they have done a lot of earthwork by doing heavy cutting at hills and heavy filling at paddy fields, thereby increasing the costs drastically. When all these combined with the type of driving of some of our fellows the expressway becomes a slaughterhouse.

    Our prez who is not a technical man himself commented that the central expressway in doing a lot of environmental damage by cutting down hills without any regard.

    So, it is obvious that the construction of expressways as it is practiced today in our country is to make us poor by inflating the cost and also to cause deaths. Most importantly we have no money to spend for these type of projects in the near future as we are already heavily indebted.

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