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Does Yala need a 40-foot roadway?

20 February 2015 04:40 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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There is a major road development activity taking place along the approach road to the Yala National Park. It appears that the road is being widened to a 40-foot roadway, with the scrub vegetation on either side being cleared for the expansion. Huge concrete culverts are being built and is finished with a tarmac surface (or ‘carpeted’ as we know it).


My concern is that this will only aggravate the current problem of speeding of vehicles (particularly jeep drivers) along this road, which can have a disastrous impact on animal life. Although this stretch of road of about 10-15 kilometres is technically outside the national park, it is still well within the buffer zone of the park.

Often, wild animals are to be seen crossing this stretch of the road and speeding vehicles can cause serious injury to them. In fact, there is on record, several instances already, where animals have been knocked down by vehicles speeding along this stretch.

It is reported that this road has been rehabilitated due to requests by the many hotels that have come up in the area of late. There is no doubt that the original road was in bad condition and had in particular, some bad ‘corrugations’ where driving was quite an arduous task. However, this does not mean that enormous sums of money needed to be spent to broaden this roadway and bring it up to a top-end ‘highway’. All that was needed was to repair some of the culverts with the very effective and practical ‘sapatthu palama’ design (‘shoe design’ culvert, which allows water to overflow over the culvert during heavy rains) and smoothen the surface of the road for more comfortable driving. This would have effectively maintained the ‘rustic’ ambience and character of the road, in keeping with a wildlife park.One wonders whether there is a more sinister motive behind this large-scale development.
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