Co- Cabinet Spokesman and Minister of Energy Udaya Gammanpila said Tuesday that approval was granted to award the contract to the China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) – for the construction of the elevated expressway – that connects Athurugiriya interchange and New Kelani Bridge on pillars.
“The Cabinet of Ministers decided to hand over the contract to CHEC due to the attractive bids they offered. Accordingly, the company will have three years to construct the elevated highway and 15 years to cover the cost invested in it. The company will be given the ownership of the project for 18 years, and after that the company should hand over the ownership of the expressway to the government”, Gammanpila said..
Meanwhile Opposition MP Dr. Harsha de Silva told Sirasa News yesterday this announcement by the Cabinet spokesman had left them thoroughly perplexed and they would demand transparency on the decision once the parliament is convened once the lockdown was lifted.
“The government knows that the previous government had done a study on this project which cost about Rs. 100 million. It found that the first section alone up to Rajagiriya would cost Rs. 50 billion or US$ 280 million plus pre-construction costs to relocate the existing electrical and other infrastructure which would cost about Rs. 12 billion. While that was the case, the current government also had called for proposals to be submitted for the project to the Chairman of BOI, the Secretary to the Ministry of Highways and President’s Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasundera. The government had then said it would not put any money into this project or bear any debt related to it. And that the project company should have sufficient funds to carry it out on zero profitability requirements, and the government would strictly enforce these conditions. Now we don’t know whether the government has received any proposals conforming to that criteria or not. But suddenly in the middle of the pandemic, we were told by the Cabinet spokesman on Tuesday that they agreed to award the project to CHEC company which the President had initially said wouldn’t be carried through. We have been kept in the dark about what is going on in this regard in the middle of the lockdown. How much is the cost of the project; will the government have any financing in it; was this approved by the Cabinet and parliament? We will raise these questions when the parliament is convened once the lockdown is lifted,” he said.