Ircon International Limited after the successful completion of the 265 kilometre reconstructed rail network in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka, is looking to expand its footprint in Sri Lanka and assures the government of Sri Lanka of its continued support to uplift the transport sector and develop further the rail infrastructure of the country.
The Government of Sri Lanka is actively considering the utilization of the available Indian line of credit for financing these projects. Furthermore, a new line of credit amounting to US $ 318 million was also announced during the visit of the Indian Premier to Sri Lanka in March 2015. The line of credit is extended by the Government of India as a soft loan, having very attractive terms and very low interest rates.
The issue of the upgrading of the railway track using Indian expertise and financial assistance was also discussed extensively during the visit of Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe to India in September this year. The Transport Minister along with his team comprising senior officials from the Transport Ministry and Sri Lanka Railways (SLR), have also expressed their satisfaction of the projects executed by Ircon in the Northern Province, with the minister expressed his views during the site inspection of works recently.
Ircon is hopeful that consequent to the formation of the new national government in the country, the process of upgrading the rail tracks especially in the Northern Province would accelerate. Further, Transport Ministry/SLR are also in the process of preparing a master plan for 2020 and it is expected that all the projects under this plan shall be monitored by a special team nominated for this purpose. It is also understood that of top priority in this master plan is to ensure that the Colombo to Jaffna and Colombo to Trincomalee train journeys are reduced to less than five hours, which is a long cherished dream of many Sri Lankans.
According to Ircon, upgrading the railway network in the country is very essential for providing a safe, fast and efficient public transport system to citizens, which helps in the overall development of the country. Ircon also said that rail transport is the most environmental friendly means of transport and hence upgrading works must be taken up on priority. Rail transport is also considered as an indicator of economic development and prosperity of a nation and is essential for tourism development, which is a main source of foreign exchange earnings for Sri Lanka.
Ircon Project Director S.L. Gupta expressed satisfaction of the newly constructed tracks. He commented that SLR is operating six pairs of trains to Jaffna every day and all trains are learnt to be running full, thereby earning huge financial revenues for the Government of Sri Lanka. He also expressed satisfaction of the many new employment opportunities created due to the construction of these railway lines and the benefits derived due to the many corporate social responsibility endeavours undertaken by Ircon locally.
On the matter of defects reported in the newly constructed railway lines in the Northern Province, Gupta said that Ircon is committed to rectify the defects during the defect liability period and substantial steps are being taken in this regard. He also said that proper maintenance is very important to keep the newly constructed tracks in good running condition, with smooth riding quality and in order to ensure this, the staff should be provided with proper training at regular intervals.