Financial hurdles cleared | Sunday Observer

Financial hurdles cleared

Central Expressway:

The Chinese Government has approved US$ 1 billion (Rs.158.4 billion) and instructed the Chinese EXIM Bank to process the loan for the completion of the 37 kilometer stretch of Section 1 of the Central Expressway Project (CEP) from Kadawatha to Mirigama. Hence, no financial constraints would be encountered in the process. Despite the delay in the release of funds for the project, the contractor has agreed to complete the project as anticipated within the stipulated time frame, 2020.

The Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Cheng Xueyuan who met Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe at Temple Trees on May 14 had conveyed that the Chinese Government has approved US$ one billion for Section 1 of the Central Expressway construction. The Ambassador had requested the Sri Lankan Government to expedite administrative and legal procedures relating to the project.

Section 1 of the Central Expressway Project Director B.D.S. Kumara told the Sunday Observer, the overall progress of Section 1, is 4.8 percent. “We have already done 10 Km of the pilot road and 3 Km of the main terrace, viaduct and embankment construction. Earlier, other than the funding, soil problems were encountered, but has since been sorted out. However, there is the need for more supply of soil. Normally, the soil requirement for Section 1, is 4.5 million cubic metres.”

Kumara said, the Chinese Government has recently approved a loan of Rs. 158.4 billion for Section 1 of the CEP. After the funds are released, the issue of delay due to financial constraints could be fully sorted out. In addition, the Cabinet of Ministers have given conditional approval to declare the Central Expressway Project as a ‘specified’ project.

He said, according to the contract agreement, the time span is 30 months for package one of the project and 48 months for package two. The project is scheduled to be completed by 2020. In addition, construction work of Section 2 of the CEP has also commenced. Section 3 of the project from Pothuhera to Galagedara awaits the finalization of the loan, but the land acquisition of Section 3 is under progress. This section of the project is to be funded by the Japanese Government. The land acquisition of Section 4 from Kurunegala to Dambulla is proceeding and the funding loan is to be finalized.

According to the Project Director Kumara the total estimated cost of Rs. 158.4 billion is sufficient to complete Section 1 of the CEP. Normally, a project commences only after signing the loan agreement and the payment of an advance. However, the contractor started work two years back in 2016.

As far as land acquisition is concerned, there are 5,133 total lots- 4,215 private lots and 918 Government lots in six Divisional Secretariat divisions, Mahara, Gampaha, Attanagalla, Mirigama, Divulapitiya and Minuwangoda. The land acquisitions of Gampaha, Divulapitiya and Minuwangoda Divisional Secretariat divisions have already been completed with nearly 75 percent of land acquisition of Mahara Divisional Secretariat. But, we have to attend some work at Attanagalla and Meerigama DS divisions. Compensation around Rs.4,147 million have already been paid to 2,380 lots in six Divisional Secretariat divisions. At present, the percentage of lands completely acquired is 56 percent. Except for only two locations, the land issues pertaining to Section 1 of the project have been sorted out.

He said, Section 1 of the CEP starts from Kadawatha to Mirigama with four interchanges- Kadawatha, Gampaha, Veyangoda and Mirigama, but the plan is to construct only three interchanges because, the Kadawatha interchange is to be done under Section 2 of the project. Therefore, only Gampaha, Veyangoda and Mirigama interchanges would be done under Section 1 of the project. The total length of Section 1 is 36.59 Kms from Kadawatha to Mirigama. This is an intermediate highway of which both sides have two lanes each.

Section 1 of the Expressway contains two packages- Kadawatha to Kossinna (4 Kms) under package one and Kossinna to Mirigama (32.55Kms) under package two. Package 2 was signed earlier and expected to carry out 4 Kms of the outer circular highway, ultimately however, ittranspired that this cannot be done because the Kadawatha interchange has also to be constructed. Therefore, they completed 500 meters only. Later, tenders were called and we got the same contractor for the Kadawatha to Kossinna stretch. From Kadawatha to Mirigama, the whole section was given to the Metallurgical Corporation of China (MCC).

Section 1 of the CEP includes 19 underpasses, 10 overpasses, 21 viaducts close to 12 Km, 16 bridge waterways, 70 box culvert drainages, 6 box culvert drainage + access, 3 Km cut area and 20.88 Km fill area. Construction work will be done according to this profile.

The contract value for civil work of Section 1 is Rs.158.4 billion excluding tax. The agreement was signed for package one on June 20, 2016 and package two on August 4, 2015. The contract period for package one from Kadawatha to Kossinna is 30 months and package two from Kossinna to Mirigama 48 months. The funds for land acquisition will be provided by the Sri Lankan Government and we are expecting the loan from China EXIM Bank for the civil work construction which has already been finalized. According to the contract data, consultancy services have already been appointed. The contract amount for the consultancy is Rs. 2.548 billion excluding tax and the agreement was signed on July 4, 2017 for a period of 48 months. A sum of Rs. 2.548 billion funding for consultancy services from the BOC has already been approved by the Treasury.

Up to now over 14 Kms have been given to the contractor, the MCC, with the agreement signed in August, 2015. They have already completed a 10 Km section of service roads. Eighty percent of the Bore-hole investigations have already been completed. Now they are constructing the main terrace and viaduct area at Ganegoda, and have also started the construction of the viaduct, with a total length of 480 meters. .