26 October, 2020

Blog

Light-Rail Derailed By Executive Disorder

By Rajan Philips

Rajan Philips

The picture and the caption below are from the Daily News, dated July 3, 2019, announcing the commencement of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) project “construction work under the patronage of (then) Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe,” with (then) Urban and Western Development Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka calling the LRT project “a measure to ease the traffic congestion in and around Colombo city.” Four months later on October 11, 2019, Daily News again reported that the LRT project “will be ready for commissioning by end of 2024 and for commercial operation by early 2025.” Not anymore. It is kaput now.

The LRT project, Champika Ranawaka’s preferred modal showcase for the Western Megapolis has been stopped in its tracks. Worse, it has been derailed and ordered to be junked. The order emanated from the fount of all power in Sri Lanka, the executive presidency. It was transmitted down by the Secretary to the President, to the Secretary of the Ministry of Transport. The source of the order and its mode of communication are quite the illustration of the model of government that has arrived in Sri Lanka. The Minister of Transport, whoever she or he is of the 225 nobodies, is no where near the tracks. There is no mention anywhere of any of this being discussed in cabinet, a decision being made, and the Minister of Transport taking over to instruct his Secretary and staff. And inform as well that other missing entity, not so much the parliament which has its name but no use, as the general public, in whose name all power is purportedly exercised. This is how things were – when there was only a PM and who was merely primus inter pares. For translation, ask Wigneswaran, the expert on old languages, dead and alive.  

And all this under the 19A Constitution, which apparently precludes the President from being a Minister of any subject (especially Defence), let alone ordering the Secretary of a Ministry while bypassing the subject Minister altogether. Even in the army, does the Commander in Chief give direct orders to privates? One would have thought that the civilian President was powerless under 19A to do any of this. Hence the ‘fierce urgency’ for 20A. So, we were told. Oops, I am sorry, I am veering too far off. Let me get back on track. 

Secretary Jayasundara’s letter (dated September 21) to the Transport Secretary became public, courtesy of a scoop by BBC journalist Saroj Pathirana, who went on social media two days later to share it with others. Economynext picked it up the same day (September 23) and ran a good story, and here I am with half a bushel grist for my Sunday mill. In the letter, in two paragraphs containing three stiff sentences, it is observed from one Secretary to another that the “Light Railway Track System is very costly and not the appropriate cost effective transport solution for the Urban Colombo transportation infrastructure.” Ergo, the directive to “terminate this project and close the project office with immediate effect.”  Then shines the light for the future: “A suitable transport solution could be worked out in consultation with the Ministry of Urban Development and Housing and the Department of National Planning with the Ministry of Finance.” Just like that! Easier done than said!!  

Cancel politics

The secretarial termination of the LRT project is part of what is turning out to be ‘cancel politics’ in Sri Lanka. Not quite like ‘cancel culture’ (the social media practice of naming and shaming public figures and private companies, and ‘canceling’ or boycotting them if they do or say anything objectionable or ‘incorrect’); but adaptable for our purposes in Sri Lanka. It is ‘cancel politics,’ from taxation to constitution to environment to projects – canceling everything that was started or half-started under the last government. It would be all right if cancellation leads to something better or positive, but that has hardly been the case so far. Tax cancellation immediately created a half a billion hole in government revenue. Environmental cancellations are now regular news. The much bandied 20th Amendment has taken constitutional cancellation to new lows of forensic mediocrity. It is perhaps the first authorless bill to be presented in any parliament. And now we have light rail derailed. 

I am not sure if any of the current decision makers bothered to review the work that went into the LRT project that they have now taciturnly cancelled. The cancelled project was identified through the Western Region Megapolis Transport Master Plan (TMP) exercise that was completed in November 2016. With 2035 as the planning horizon, the TMP focused on four areas – Public Transport, Road Infrastructure, Transport Demand Management, and Environmental Sustainability, for project identification in seven corridors. 

Radiating north to south from Colombo, the seven corridors extend towards Negombo, Kandy, Kaduwela, Malabe, Kottawa, Piliyandara, and Moratuwa. The cancelled project is one of the seven LRT lines identified TMP, and is for the Colombo-Malabe corridor. The planning exercise was conducted by a Core Team of six and a broader Study Team of 36 – Sri Lankan (and also Sinhalese) professionals and a few academics. What they laboured and produced certainly deserves a whole lot more than a summary cancellation in three technically meaningless secretarial sentences.

The Colombo (Fort) – Malabe line, extending over 16 km and including 16 stations, was selected as the first LRT project for implementation based on technical grounds such as giving relief to existing vehicular traffic congestion in the corridor, and convenient right-of-way availability. A soft loan arrangement to cover 80% of the project cost (USD 1.8 billion out of USD 2.2 billion) was arranged with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). In March 2020, after the November Presidential election, the (Rajapaksa) government signed a 30 billion yen concessionary loan with Japan. Then in June, out of nowhere, the government halted the project, giving high costs and low returns as reasons. 

More grievous than technical illiteracy is the economic thinking, rather the lack of it, that is behind the cancellation. The argument of high costs and low returns does not hold water, given the plethora of coastal and highway construction projects that have been undertaken at exorbitant and even uncontrolled costs. As for returns, any public transit project, such as the cancelled LRT project, will be beneficial to large numbers of ordinary Sri Lankans unlike any of the port, port city and highway projects undertaken over the last decade. Leaving aside conventional costs and returns, what is inexplicable is the government’s blindness to the economic stimulus potential of this project in the current and dire Covid-economic situation. Especially given the facility of concessionary loans that Japan is willing to give. And Japan is not even a Christian country with Tamil or Muslim populations, to provoke civilizational diehards. 

Curiously, while rushing to cancel the LRT project supported by Japan, the government has gone quiet on the controversial MCC grant offer from the US. Is it because the US has Sri Lankan dual citizens, and Japan doesn’t? Or is it because the LRT project is too much of a Champika Ranawaka project that should be removed root and branch to politically starve the former Minister out of any future presidential reckoning? Either way, they are not any technically defensible or economically sound reasons for cancelling the LRT project. On the other hand, there are both technical and economic reasons against rushing ahead with the construction of Central Expressway projects based on dubiously creative funding schemes. 

The non-decision over MCC is depriving the Colombo City of good grant money to address traffic congestion at nearly 130 of the City’s junctions. Add to that the politically vindictive decision to cancel the Japanese LRT project and deprive the Colombo region of a much needed and readily available economic stimulus to tide over the current Covid-economic and low employment situation. And the cancel decision will also deprive the people in the Colombo-Malabe corridor of the benefits of the LRT project – avoiding the congested roadways, and travelling faster and safer.  

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Latest comments

  • 14
    1

    The project with Japan is cancelled.
    I guess LRT project is still on the cars
    The Rajapakses wants to give it to China and get 10% commission.

    However not sure what are the financial implications.
    How much money has JCI already invested.
    will they ask for the money back
    who got the 10% on the Japan deal.
    Will JCI ask for the commission back
    will there be a kiss and tell by JCI?

    • 5
      18

      Phillips and Rajesh: Colombo needs many LRT lines – from Panadura to Colombo a coastal line, Horana to Colombo and Malabe to Colombo. These different lines need to be inter-lined and connected. The astronomical price of a single line from Malabe to Colombo quoted by JAICA is a problem and a single line will not solve the conjestion meanwhile Sri Lanka will have to ask Japan to do all the other needed LRT lines for a massive price. Japan which is a US proxy and member of QUAD in the plan to set up US military bases in Sri Lanka to fight the US Deep State and Trumps Hybrid Cold War in China should be sent packing. Japan and Saffron Thug Modi also want to Colombo Habour East terminal. Japanese fake aid is part of the DEBT TRAP that Sri Lanka is in and Japan has been looting the fisheries and mineral wealth of Sri Lanka for decades while pretending to provide aid with ADB, WB and IMF as partners..
      Also, Japan has been playing a dirty game – flooding Sri Lanka with its second hand cars while delaying construction of the LRT for PUBLIC transport more than 5 years.!! Japan did the same game in Jakarata, Indonesia causing massive traffic pollution with old Japanese cars and the Joko WIdodo govt. kicked them out too..

      • 7
        0

        Dinuk, not only those three, but also three other main lines :
        1. Jaela running through Wattala, Hendala, across Kepani river to Mattakkuliya, detour to Kotahena Junction to Kochchikade, Fish market to Fort.
        2. Kadawatte, Kiribathgoda, Kelaniya, 4th mile post, Peliyagoda, Madampitiya, Kos gas junction, Armour Street, Messenger street, main street to Fort.
        3. Homagama, Maharagama, detour to Nugegoda station, Kirillapone bridge, Havelock town, park road, Narahenpita, Thimbirigasyaya flats, Torrington, Town Hall, Maradana, Technical College, Pettah bus stand and Fort.
        In addition three cross lines as interchanges to these:
        1. Kollupitiya Station following 140 bus route, Maradana, Maligawatte Dematagoda, Kolonnawa to Wellampiya and then low level road to Kaduwela.
        2. Bambalapitiya station to Torrington cross past Otters to Manning town, Borella, Dematagoda, Urugodawatte, 4th mile post, Kelaniya temple to Biyagama.
        3. Wellawatte station to Pamankada, Kirilappone Bridge, Pollehengoda, Narahenpita, Nawala, Rajagiriya, Moragsmulla, Kolonnawa, IDH and Angoda.

        • 5
          0

          While Panadura to Fort can be above Galle road up to Galle face then to Slave island to Lake house and to Fort, Horana to Fort and the Malabe to Fort should be aligned for maximum passenger benefit.
          1. Horana to Kohuwela, Havelock town, Thunmulla, Thurstan road, Museum, Turret road, Town hall, Slave Island, Galle Face and Fort.
          2. Malabe to Rajagiriya, Cotta Road, Borella, Punchi Borella, Town Hall, Darley road, Maradana, Hultsdorph, Pettah bus stand and Fort.
          3. Also another one to connect Jaela and Kadawatte lines such as from Ragama, Hunupitiya, Wattala, Peliyagoda, Grandpass, Urugodawatte, Wellampitiya, IDH, Koswatte, Battaramulla, Talawatugoda and Kottawa.
          There are convenient interchanges – Wellawatte, Bambalapitiya, Havelock town, Kollupitiya, Town hall, Slave Island, Narahenpita, Kirillapone bridge, Torrington, Maradana, Dematagoda, Kolonnawa, Borella, 4th mile post and Rajagiriya.
          You could link Panadura to Fort with Fort to Malabe, Horana to Fort with Fort to Kadawatte and Homagama to Fort with Fort to Jaela as through journeys.

          • 1
            1

            Further to that the link line from Ragama to Kottawa, be rerouted to continue from Pannipitiya to Piliyandala, Katubedda campus and Moratuwa. This set up will make this line to connect all other lines similar to circle line of London.

      • 5
        2

        you can fool the rural Sinhala masses with this rubbish

    • 0
      0

      what I posted few days ago.

      http://www.ft.lk/front-page/Finance-Ministry-to-look-at-exiting-1-8-b-LRT-loan/44-706842

      There is more under the carpet

    • 4
      1

      Sri Lanka is in dire financial straits on the verge of bankruptcy. This is why Mahinda was begging Modi for one million dollar currency swap and moratorium on debt repayment. When all major cities and several other cities in India have Metro rail systems, Colombo is unable to have one. Take Chennai which has three systems in place, first one opened twenty years ago mainly elevated and first few miles on ground, other two opened few years ago partly elevated and partly underground. They have started work on three others delayed by Covid 19, where one is mainly underground with last few mile elevated and other two are partly underground and partly elevated. They have planned for three more lines for the future. When JICA and ADB are happy to fund these projects in Chennai, why are they hesitating to do it in Colombo. JICA recently withdrew citing poor financial discipline (Diplomatic word for corruption and mismanagement). With poor credit rating of inability to repay loans, no commercial lender will look at Sri Lanka even at high interest rates.

  • 3
    14

    I guess over hanging railways must be very costly. Both capital and running costs. Heavily dependent on the supplier on spares – another inescapable trap.
    Extending, Electrification and double lining of the existing railways could be more beneficial overall. (May be, I don’t know, the author should be able to enlighten us)
    Even India can help us for that.

    Another thing. This is a Colombo centric approach.
    This may further aggravate the congestion in Colombo.

    Sure, over hanging railways are great fun.

    Soma

    • 9
      2

      Soma,
      “Even India can help us for that.”
      If elevated railways were unaffordable, the Indians wouldn’t have invested in them. Even minor cities like Cochin have them, in addition to elevated highways for motor traffic. They are not as fancy looking as ours, but they serve the purpose.

      • 1
        0

        India has advantage over Sri Lanka when it comes to infrastructure projects. Firstly most of the materials are produced in India whereas Sri Lanka needs to import them Secondly labour is cheap and efficient unlike Sri Lanka where it is expensive and less productive. Initially people in India shunned these metros as they were expensive, but later began to accept them, especially middle class who wished to travel in comfort.

    • 3
      2

      over hanging railways?
      what the hell are you typing….
      .as usual you typed this when having hangover

      • 0
        1

        Rajash,
        “over hanging railways”
        Clearly not a techie.

        • 0
          0

          Rajash
          I thought the carraiges are suspended from an elevated mono track.

          Soma

          • 0
            0

            Soma,
            No, the trains run on tracks which are elevated on pylons .

          • 1
            0

            yes and passengers will also suspended upside down, like bats , inside the carriage.

            Soma in the fore front of innovation

      • 0
        0

        Rajash
        I thought the carraiges are suspended from an elevated mono track.

        Soma

    • 6
      0

      Soma, cheapest is ground level railway followed by elevated on concrete pillars and underground is costly not only in construction but also in maintaining. As for ground level, cost will increase in built up city like Colombo when paying compensation to land owners, whereas elevated one can be along broad roads without displacement of properties. In Colombo ideally coast line should have been four tracks, main line should have been six tracks and Kelani Valley should have been double tracked. If you compare Chennai, southern line has four tracks and northern /north-western line has six tracks. This type of arrangement is necessary to allow fast trains to use two tracks and suburban trains to use other two. If you cannot have six tracks on main line, Negombo line should be rerouted from Kandana to Wattala, Mattakuliya, Mahawatte and use the Harbour line to connect it to main line at Urugodawatte and then run parallel to Main line making it six tracked. As for electrification huge investment is necessary as even colour light signaling is limited in Sri Lanka. Yes Sri Lanka which has grandiose ideas has a lot to learn from India.

      • 3
        1

        Dr.G.S.
        Thanks a lot. I really appreciate your comment. Best contribution on the subject under discussion.
        .
        ” Sri Lanka which has grandiose ideas has a lot to learn from India”
        I always believed that, from independence we should have had very close cooperation with India over expansion of railways.

        Soma

        • 1
          0

          soma

          Beyond Railways find out from old codger about the range of fields in which this country could have benefited (in some cases specialised ) by collaborations.

        • 0
          0

          What impresses me here is that Gnana and Soma appear to be talking seriously to each other.
          .
          I’d never have imagined that possible!
          .
          Let me see how this evolves.
          .
          Please don’t disappoint me!

        • 1
          0

          Soma, you need not have to look at India as a whole. Just look at Tamil Nadu which has made vast strides in agriculture and technology. Problem with Sinhalese is that they have been fed anti-Tamil feeling and do not want to know anything that is Tamil.

    • 1
      2

      soma

      “This may further aggravate the congestion in Colombo.”

      How about reintroducing our old Sinhala culture, bullock cart (in case you didn’t know the old Sinhala name ගොන් කරත්තය Gon Karathaya)? We can slow down our life style and opt out from the rat race, as Elle Gunawansa urge the Sinhala/Buddhists to adapt while he himself enjoys a high profile presence in this island.

      “Even India can help us for that.”

      I am not travelling on it.

      • 0
        1

        NV
        “I am not travelling on it.”
        You know Native, this is why India never launched a manned space flight.
        You can’t find anyone to fly an Indian made rocket.

        Soma

        • 1
          0

          soma

          “You can’t find anyone to fly an Indian made rocket.”

          You know immediately after the Pokhran-II when former Union minister Jaswant Singh was about the target of Hindia’s nuclear programme.

          He replied it’s not any country specific. Hindians would not know with 100% certainty where their bomb would hit until it actually reach a place, any place.

          Until I know for sure about its destination I wouldn’t step into any of their moving …. whatever.

          You know some years ago before foreign collaboration was allowed an Indian MP complained in the parliament about cars made in India, he said the only part that didn’t make any noise was the horn.

          Did you know Hindia’s first moon mission landed not on the target but the opposite side of moon, and many months late.

          • 0
            0

            What about the Indian made Covid vaccine?

            Soma

            • 1
              0

              soma

              “What about the Indian made Covid vaccine?”

              Like in Sri Lanka the politicians and state functionaries in Hindia have no intention of letting Hindians free, to unleash their full potential. Despite Hindians built inertia Indians are doing alright.

          • 1
            0

            Native,

            “Did you know Hindia’s first moon mission landed not on the target but the opposite side of moon, and many months late.”
            I think you have been seriously mis-informed. Stop reading Pakistani sources for Indian history, and vice versa.

            https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chandrayaan-1&ved=2ahUKEwjS0oCIuI3sAhWPIbcAHcVlA1EQFjAMegQIAxAB&usg=AOvVaw1LIVmHcjUnoLmGGPPcK41R

            • 1
              0

              old codger

              Please read the following:

              Celebrating India’s moon moment
              OCTOBER 22, 2010 00:20 IST

              Excerpt
              ….
              ….
              Nearing the second anniversary of the historic launch, a high-power review committee set up by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has concluded that “the scientific experiments could only cover 70 per cent of the moon.” The panel also revealed, for the first time, that it was a tiny 110-gram part that cost merely $5000 which brought down the $100-million mission. As one ISRO engineer remarked, “it was an ant that killed the elephant.”

              A part called a ‘DC-DC converter,’ very much akin to a tiny transformer that was imported from an American company, Modular Devices Inc., is what failed. Not one but five of them sequentially failed onboard Chandrayaan-1, causing the premature termination of the mission. The probe committee, in its 50-page report, faulted ISRO on its testing and quality assurance for not having detected the poor quality of this vital imported component. But at the same time the panel concluded, “the management of Chandrayaan-1 mission particularly after the occurrence of failures, clearly points out to the maturity of ISRO in mission management.” Dubbing the mission “quite successful,” the Prime Minister’s panel concluded that Chandrayaan-1 “has brought great prestige to India.”

              https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/Celebrating-Indias-moon-moment/article15788241.ece

          • 1
            0

            Native,
            “he said the only part that didn’t make any noise was the horn.”
            Have you heard about the Ceylonese MP who complained that the only things in the country that don’t strike are matches?

            • 1
              0

              old codger

              I love such political jokes.

              • 0
                0

                One about the Indian car is the best.

    • 0
      0

      ” I guess over hanging railways must be very costly. Both capital and running costs. Heavily dependent on the supplier on spares – another inescapable trap. ”

      Somu, what do you know about capital projects? Governments’ face two main costs; Monetary and environmental. Benefits are two ways; financial return and social wellbeing. All over world government projects fail to bring back enough return and end on tax payers’ money. For example New York Subway frequently needs tax payers bail outs in both forms, fair increase & City, state and Federal funding. But it is unimaginable to think the city without the subway system. Traveling so many billions of passenger miles by private cars might have flooded the city with sea water half a century ago, just one of the environmental concerns, leaving other problems aside. So the tax payers are bound to fund the system.
      The most profitable railway line now in Lankawe is Colombo – Jaffna, Thanks for India for funding and doing it, unlike Chinese Hangbangtota or Colombo Pong Cing. Hitachi wanted to build a private line to North with high-speed trains in 1970s. There was no cost to Government. It will be used only by high premium cost payers.

      Government lines, which provided bathroom- less economy travelling, would not be affected.

      • 0
        0

        Because it was going to North, Appe Aanduwas never allowed Hitachi to do that private project. Palai is a viable International airport but not Matala Mahindhabachan Naked Internarial Airport. Aanduwa closed Palai becuase it is in North.

        I heard the LRT loan cost was 0.25% and repayable over to 40 years, unlike Hangbangtota, 6.75% within 10 years and caused the foreclose in 5 years. Government has sold the Colombo Pong Cing and Hangbangtota China, because both loss making. China may hold Hangbangtota for another term, if it has not recovered its cost by that time. If government is prepared to do those things, but why is not asking Japanese government to arrange a private party buying the project? When government has money, it can buy back at the market price. Governments are not refusing loans. Governments prepared to give grants. FDI is well within the reach of Aanduwa. International Companies will do many things themselves. How many Global companies have opened branches in Singapore and South India? Now Bangladesh is coming in that line. Government selects the path Chinese sales only because it doesn’t want to work with UNHRC and it wants unacceptable amount of commission.
        Get along with International Community.
        Improve the Human right situation.
        Open the economy to private developments.

        • 0
          1

          Mallayuran
          Thanks. You may be right.
          My premise is that the only solution for the traffic problem is to take people AWAY from Colombo rather than more and more INTO Colombo. Highway system was intended to do just that.
          Government must change it to a BOT type project as you suggest. You reckon there are takers?
          Post Covid economies could be a different ball game. Must be vey cautious in commiting ourselves
          further and further into this kind of loans.

          Soma

  • 12
    3

    The first aspect to run away from this laudable project which would have given relief to the common citizens is that this horu boru Salli nathi sakkili government does not have 2cents in their amudes to scratch their balls.

    They have to come with 20% of the estimated cost and as the author cleverly correctly stated that Champika Ranawaka a honest straight shooter s desire to hold the high office must have sent shivers down the bodies of the uncouth unsavoury criminal money guzzling rajapukas whose only aim for living is to make tons and tons of hora boru monies.

    Japan by being the generous donor must have put a full stop to any underhanded commission s

    Now this country will be known as the rajapuka no money club.

    What ?? a disabled disgusting island these rajapuka s have turned this once thriving always in the black economy now known all over as rajapuka s Kota uda island where even a million dollar s will not even last for a day.

  • 5
    2

    Dear Rajan

    Thank you and as always love the humour yet covers the topic comprehensively to ask all the right questions.

    1. We need to pass this mindset of party politics will help us all “pool” our brains together to do more “due diligent” work on selecting appropriate technologies to develop Mother Lanka in a collective form. This has always been a miss because we had Race/religious/Language/Caste issues and the respective parties made a living out of this taking us all down to the gutters.
    2. The last GOSL was unable to move forward because this has wasted lots if their time/image on being a constitutional assembly on devolution for a “lot” who could not even deliver simple task of running the NPC yet had the capacity to affect all matters affecting the entire SL?
    3. I reflect SLFP educational subjects in my younger days (70’s) and think current GOSL if allowed will be more organic in nature in addressing issues related to sustainability more thoroughly than the earlier GOSL who were bogged down with the TNA/Muslim party politics. There is no intellectual input from these parties other than ghetto politics even for their own spaces……ask them for due diligent work on technology selection/city planning they will run to their own Ghettos with their own versions of bedtime stories? is a historical fact.

  • 3
    5

    4. We need to utilise the diaspora knowledge (Sinhalese/Tamils) ie all Sri Lankans overseas and connect to the respective departments. The Diaspora need to be given “task list” of study works they can have it done in their respective countries so a very vetted/reviewed study work can land in the departments for technology selection/project approval reviews etc.
    5. We need to remove all parties who do not have “National policies” but suck our blood on sectarian politics.
    6. We need to accept the current GOSL and support them for the current term of governance positively is a good starting point specially after a miserable war now the stakes are very high with the regional & geo political issues affecting our region.
    7. I think the money could be better spent on more localised development work in respective areas throughout the land than just focus on Colombo? but we need to remove the PC’s before then for a better future hence the current constitutional changes?

  • 11
    3

    Tin-pot dictator is showing magic to hapless parliamentarians and the people. But he can only play his game as circumscribed by India and US. Otherwise he knows his “route will get cancelled.”

  • 5
    1

    Good thing. Lanka needs that loan money to build overpasses over forests. Colombo can stop using their many cars that clog up the road and collect tax for decent public transport.

  • 4
    1

    The Rajapakse regime didn’t seem to think of the cost effectiveness when it came to building white elephant ports, airports, stadiums & convention centres in Hambantota or paying over the odds to build highways, all with borrowed money at commercial rates from China.

    All developed countries have a good public transport system & discourage vehicular traffic in cities to ease congestion & reduce pollution. Instead of developing a good public transport system for all, the SL govt. seems to be keen on building roads to accommodate all the private vehicles of rich commuters (& 3 wheel drivers). Commuter transport in SL is controlled by the private bus mafia & congestion, particularly, at rush hour & school closing times, is a nightmare, not to mention the waste of fuel & the pollution created by private vehicles moving bumper to bumper. If the LRT is not cost effective, is there another option? Seems to me it is more likely that the Japs are not willing to oil the palms of the Rajapakse regime than an eleventh hour feasibility study.

  • 6
    3

    This is a GOOD DECISION by the President.
    Spending US$ 2.2 billion to build an LRT to ease traffic congestion of, as small as, a 17km stretch of road from Malabe to Colombo is insane and unjustifiable.
    .
    In a country, where children have to WALK 16 km to go to school, taking such a colossal loan to build a 17km road is a crime.
    For example; to go to school where there are classes from Primary to Junior High, the children of Pudukatuwa, Uggalduwa and Nagrak (World’s End trail) have to walk 32km up and down, and to the Senior High in Balangoda, 70km up and down!!!
    (Nagrak, Pudukatuwa, Uggalduwa Estate Villages in Sabaragamuwa Province – courtesy “Lankadeepa” Sinhala Daily).
    In other areas too, children who suffer from malnutrition have to walk long distances, sometimes even crossing rivers and streams to go to school.
    Sri Lanka is in a mammoth debt burden in the name of development, but children still have to walk 16km to go to school!
    What went wrong with Sri Lanka? Miscalculations, classism, educational discrimination, gender discrimination, occupational discrimination, everything.
    From 1948 up to now, all decisions were taken by Upper Class Sinhalese politicians and bureaucrats who promoted social stratification.
    Will there be a change in the future? I don’t know. Maybe.

  • 6
    1

    I am reminded of John Diandas who was a persistent campaigner for electric trains in Sri Lanka way back in the 1970s, if not earlier.
    An underground metro system could have been introduced with great ease if initiated at the time. That would have reduced traffic jams and cut out much pollution.
    *
    Despite his being in important positions, this idea of his was not followed up seriously enough.

    • 1
      0

      S.J,
      Yes, I remember hundreds of letters on traffic problems written by Mr. Diandas.
      But our politicians are too clever to do anything that is actually useful. They prefer to kill flies with expensive sledge-hammers .

  • 0
    0

    The government of Sri Lanka must not increase its debt burden any further. LRT project must be converted to a BOT project to make it commercially attractive, with only the land provided by the government. The government can never operate a high cost LRT project with an estimated ticket price of Rs 50/Km, when the train fares are much less than bus fares.

  • 1
    0

    I would like to challenge Gotabaya on the following to answer:

    1. Are you not expecting Sri Lankan economy to develop in the next 7 years and be much stronger within next 40 years that SL will not be able to pay the Japanese Loan? Is that one of the reasons why you cancelled the project?

    2. Show me one loan which matched the concessionary terms and rate of interest that your Brother Mahinda was able to get from any foreign institution or Govt during his two terms as President.

    3. Under what authority are you cancelling an international agreement passed by the Cabinet without due procedure? Is this another oral “chakralekanaya” of yours?

    4. Show me a plan which you have, without increasing the traffic on the road, to move people from point A to point B during rush hours.

    5. Compare the cost of any other mode of transport where so many people can be moved with less expenses to the Govt covering the new destinations.

    Hopefully you will have the honor to reply this in this column itself Mr. President.

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