W. K Nandasena, a resident of Lellakada, Ginimellagaha, said that travelling to Galle took less time after the Wakwella – Ginimellagaha road was improved. “It used to take more than an hour before the roadwas carpeted, but now it takes less than 45 minutes” he said. Nandasena has been selling lotteries at the Ginimellagaha junction on the Wakwella – Baddegama Road in the Galle District for more than adecade and travels to Galle to purchase his requirements often. K. P. Leelawathy, who buys a ticket or two each day from Nandasena, with the hope of winning a first prize, nodded in agreement. The 6.97 kilometre stretch of road from Wakwella to Ginimellagaha was improved under the Integrated Road Investment Program (iRoad) and completed on the February 14, 2017 after which travelling has become more convenient and time saving for Nandasena, Leelawathy and others who commute on this road. It’s Performance Based Maintennance (PBM) or in more simple terms 3 year maintenance period by the contractor is being done. The Integrated Road Investment Programme or iRoad was initiated with the objective of improving the all-weather connectivity of road networks in rural areas, so that the quality of life of the rural folk like Nandasena and Leelawathy are uplifted and are empowered to contribute to the economic development of the nation. The iRoad programme implemented as iRoad I and iRoad II, by which a total of 6530 km of rural roads and 750 km of national roads have been selected for improvement, is costing the people of Sri Lanka a colossal US$ 1,990.6 million and interest ! Of the US$ 1,990.6 million, the Asian Development Bank is lending US$ 1,700 million while the Government of Sri Lanka will contribute US$ 290.6 million. The funds are being disbursed in tranches from 2014 to 2021. (See table)
- Under the iRoad programme, a total of 588.5kilometres of access roads (565.6km rural and 22.9km national) were improved
- The IRoad programme in Sri Lanka commenced in 2014 and would continue till 2027
- The funds are being disbursed in tranches from 2014 to 2021
- Of the US$ 1,990.6 million, the Asian Development Bank is lending US$ 1,700 million
More than happy to partner GoSL
“Transport is the backbone of a countries development” emphasised Sri Widowati, Country Director of the Asian Development Bank in Sri Lanka while speaking to journalists at the office of the ADB’s resident mission at independence square. She also said that as the ADB had successfully implemented a rural road improvement programme in India and the bank had been more than happy to partner the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) to implement the iRoad programme.
Secretary to the Ministry of Highways, Road Development and Petroleum Resources Development Sunil Hettiarachchi admitted that the iRoad programme was the ADB’s brainchild and on completion it would enhance the livelihood of Sri Lanka’s entire population of 20.4 million. The IRoad programme in Sri Lanka commenced in 2014 and would continue till 2027 and would cover all nine provinces of the island. “The roads that are being improved were selected based on the results of a ‘transect walk survey. Once the final selection was done no changes were entertained for any reason” he added.
“Main objective was to reduce travel time by 20%”
“iRoad is not merely a road construction program” reiterated Anil Perera , Team Leader of MGC-ECL JV who are the project consultants of the iRoad programme in the Southern Province. “It is integration of social, economic and environmental aspects through road construction to uplift the quality of the life of vast rural communities. The main objective was to reduce travel time by 20% but we have achieved much more” he added.
The pilot phase of the programme was in the Southern Province. “The Southern Province has a geographical area of 5,444 square kilometres and is made up of the Galle, Matara and Hambanthota districts. Almost 80% of the over 2.5 million population live in rural areas” said R. C. de Zoysa Chief Secretary of the Southern Province In the Southern Province. Under the iRoad programme, a total of 588.5kilometres of access roads (565.6km rural and 22.9km national) were improved and will be maintained by the contractors for a further three year period under the Performance Based Maintenance (PBM) after which they will be handed over to the provincial authorities. “If the local authorities maintain the roads in a similar manner they would last for another 15 years or more” Perera quipped while de Zoysa assured that the provincial government was capable of maintaining these roads as the province is a top contributor to the nations GDP. The improvement to the roads were made with minimal harm to the environment.
The road surfaces were either Asphalt or concrete while shoulder construction, drains, embankments and their protection were designed and constructed as per situation. Roads were marked and signboards placed. Even access to households were designed and constructed with the special needs of occupants taken into consideration. In scenic Deniyaya in close proximity to the world renowned SinharajaForest reserve the 13.1 kilometres of the Batayaya-Kandilpana-Bewraliya Road which winds through lush tea plantations was a road improved under the iRoad programme. It was evident that the benefits of the improved roads were being reaped as there are more buses plying the route and are more punctual, farmers were able to take their produce to the village fairs with ease while children, the future of our nation who used to toil along gravelly paths to school were seen sprinting along the carpeted roads.