The Ministry of Transport is likely to stop trains from travelling on the Matara to Beliatta railway line in the coming weeks after reports surfaced that construction of the new railway tracks by a Chinese company had not been up to standard, the Daily Mirror learns.
In addition, a committee will also be appointed to probe the project which was carried out by a Chinese company who has no previous experience in the construction of railways.
The 26.75 km long Matara-Beliatta railway extension was declared open for the public in April, but it has been reported that within a short span of time, one of the railway bridges has already suffered cracks and the ceiling of a railway building collapsed.
Minister of Transport Mahinda Amaraweera instructed the railway authorities last week to refrain from taking over the newly-constructed railway line without conducting a thorough investigation to see whether the railway tracks match with the standard.
The commuters who use the tracks have complained of irregularities regarding the construction.
The railway extension was financed by the Export-Import Bank of China and the contract was awarded to the China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation.
A major portion of the construction was carried out by China Railway Group 5 (CR5) and Sri Lanka’s Central Engineering Consultancy Bureau (CECB).
The Matara-Beliatta railway line is the first to be constructed in Sri Lanka since 1948, and it includes the longest tunnel and second-longest railway bridge of 1.5 km and 1.04 km, respectively.
The railway line also includes one of the tallest railway bridges, the longest railway tunnel and the most modern railway station building in the country. (JAMILA HUSAIN)