The work on the third phase of the Outer Circular Highway (OCH III) between Kadawatha and Kerawalapitiya will commence within the next couple of weeks, Highways and Investment Promotion Minister Kabir Hashim said.
Hashim during a recent meeting with a Chinese envoy in Colombo had clarified that the committee appointed by him to negotiate with contractors had proposed changes in scope that could potentially achieve cost savings in the region of Rs.25 billion.
Further to these negotiations, the government has released a part of the mobilization fees.
The discussion between the minister and the ambassador also covered plans to commence work on the Southern Expressway extension.
The minister explained that serious consideration had been given towards proceeding with the project as justification of its cost was important.
As there is a commitment with China already and agreements and contracts have been signed with regard to this project, it was mentioned that the Sri Lankan government wishes to maintain its goodwill.
The minister explained that although the evaluation of the project on a stand-alone basis may question the feasibility, the benefits that could potentially accrue when looked at as an integrated investment with investments already made on the Hambantota Port and a proposed Economic Zone would justify the feasibility to proceed with the Southern Expressway extension.
The minister denied allegations that road-work in the country had been halted, rather he explained that some work had been temporarily paused to revaluate and negotiate in the wider interest of the country.
“All road work has recommenced and is being carried out in a far more planned and systematic manner that has reduced wastage,” he said.