President angry over some highway contracts, calls for national policy
President Maithripala Sirisena is livid over complaints that there are irregularities over multimillion dollar contracts for major road construction projects and he wants “a national policy on highways.”
He made the declaration at the Progress Review meeting of the Road Development Authority (RDA) last Thursday at the Presidential Secretariat.
Mr Sirisena wanted to know the status of the ongoing road construction projects and the funds being spent.
His remarks came after Highways State Minister Dilan Perera ( also official spokesperson for the Sri Lanka Freedom Party) exclaimed that it was not necessary to undertake expressway projects incurring a heavy cost since it would be a financial burden on the country. He noted that since Sri Lanka was a small nation which has raised large amounts of foreign loans, it was unconscionable to spend them on such projects.
Mr Perera urged President Sirisena to first identify such projects on a priority basis and embark on them. He added that there should be a review if tender awards were made to companies which were identified for wrong doing or had been blacklisted.
“Meyka cancel karapu kattiyatada denna yanney,” - is this being awarded to a company that has been cancelled for irregularities before, President Sirisena asked. He was alluding to media reports, including in the Sunday Times to a tender being awarded for the Central Expressway to a Japanese company at the behest of a senior official of the country’s Cabinet.
Those present included Highways Minister Lakshman Kiriella, Presidential Secretary Austin Fernando and RDA Chairman Nihal Suriyaarachchi.