ECONOMYNEXT – President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Wednesday (24) opened Sri Lanka’s first cable-stayed six-lane bridge constructed with a concessionary loan of 35,020 million yen from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JAICA).

Named the Golden Gate Kalyani, the bridge consists of six lanes from the entrance of the Colombo-Katunayake Expressway towards the Bandaranaike Roundabout and from that point onwards, the flyover will be four lanes towards Orugodawatte and the Ingurukade Junction enabling access to the elevated expressways from Ingurukade Junction to the Colombo Port City and from Orugodawatta to Athurugiriya, a statement from the president’s office said.

The project was initially planned by the Mahinda Rajapaksa administration in 2012 together with JAICA and approved by cabinet in 2014. However, construction was delayed till 2017 till housing and places of business were provided for displaced residents and public and private institutes, the statement said.

The total cost for the project is 55,000 million rupees, according to the president’s media division (PMD).

The PMD said the bridge was designed using the latest technology and with minimum impact to the surrounding environment and the biodiversity nourished by the Kelani river.

“Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of infrastructure development projects have been initiated. While stating that all these activities will continue, President Rajapaksa said that all the promised projects will be completed if there are no other lockdowns in the country in the future,” the statement said.

Speaking the opening ceremony, Highways Minister Johnston Fernando blamed the previous government for the project’s delay.

“Precious lives could have been saved if the project had been implemented,” he was quoted as saying, without elaboration.

Japanese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Mizukoshi Hideaki joining the ceremony stated the ‘Golden Gate Kalyani’ is another symbol of Japan-Sri Lanka friendship and Japan will continue to provide assistance to Sri Lanka in the future.

Hideaki’s remark comes against a backdrop of President Rajapaksa ordering the termination of a Japan-funded light rail project in September 2020.

Related: Sri Lanka president orders immediate termination of Japan-funded light rail project

(Colombo/ Nov 25/2021)