More Sri Lankans than Chinese in China railway project

By Tharindu Chaturanga

There are more Sri Lankans than Chinese involved in the Chinese-funded railway project linking Matara and Kataragama, officials involved in the project told The Morning.

Officials said that at least 70% of Sri Lankans are involved in the project while 30% are Chinese.

A group of journalists were taken to the site of the project by the Chinese Embassy to be briefed on the progress of the work carried out so far.

The Matara to Kataragama railway project was initially set to commence in 1990 but was finally launched only in 2006 by then-President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The project however, stalled over lack of funds and resumed in 2012 with the assistance of the Chinese government.

China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation Senior Engineer Consultant Padmasiri Halovita said that thanks to China, the project had seen progress and was expected to be completed in six months.

He said that there was a short delay in completing the project, owing to an issue with the installation of signals along the track.

Phase one of the project, once completed, will see the construction of nine ridges including three major bridges, two railway tunnels, five railway stations, and 21 railway crossings.

The railroad includes easy gradients, devoid of sharp curves for energy efficiency which could achieve a design speed of 120km/hr.

Almost 91% of phase one of the 27 km Matara-Beliatta stretch of the Matara-Kataragama Railway extension project is now complete, Halowita said.

He said that the Southern railway extension will be of immense benefit to the public as well as tourists.

The construction is being handled by China Railway Group 5 with China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation and the project is being funded by the Exim Bank of China with an investment of $ 250 million.

Pictures by Lalith Perera