Colombo, Sri Lanka (Urban Transport News): The Government of Sri Lanka has cancelled its US$ 2.2 billion light rail project that was to be built in Colombo with the financial assistance of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
The Secretary to the PresidentDr. PB Jayasundara has sent a letter to the Secretary to the Ministry of Transport NB Monty Ranatunga on the 21st September 2020 requesting him to stop the US$ 2.2 billion Light Rail Transit (LRT) project immediately and close its project office.
“It has been observed that Light Railway Track System is very costly and not the appropriate cost-effective transport solution for the urban Colombo transportation infrastructure,” the letter said adding that “The President has directed me to request you to terminate the project with immediate effect.”
Sources said that the reasons for scrapping the proejct could be many houses and business premises would have to be destroyed during construction, important wetlands would be severely damaged, the cost of constructing the elevated track would be immense and operating costs excessive.
"We are (now) thinking of a more efficient project that can achieve the same results but within $500 million (15 billion baht). We believe we can do that," said Keheliya Rambukwella , Cabinet Spokesperson.
It has been learnt that the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed a concessionary loan agreement with the Government of Sri Lanka in March last year to provide fund about US$ 1.86 billion (¥30 billion) for the Light Rail Transit proejct.
“A suitable transport solution could be worked out in consultation with the Ministry of Urban development and Housing and the Department of National Planning of the Ministry of Finance," said in letter.
The Ministry of Megapolis and Western Development of Government of Sri Lanka has commenced the construction work of the first phase of the Colombo light rail transit project. "We have now begun the first stage of the Malabe-Colombo Light Rail Transit system.
Under the first phase of the project, construction of a 17-km long light rail transit system was planned to connect Malabe to Colombo Fort with 16 stations.