Sri Lanka-Japan Negotiations Revive Hope for Stalled LRT Project
The Minister of Urban Development and Housing, Prasanna Ranatunga, disclosed ongoing negotiations between the Sri Lankan and Japanese governments to revive the dormant Japan-funded Light Rail Transit (LRT) initiative. Amid diplomatic discussions, both parties are recalibrating the project’s scope and estimated costs, primarily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and economic challenges. Ranatunga expressed optimism, foreseeing the project recommencing shortly.
The recalibration process, central to the bilateral dialogue, is slated to lead the way for next year’s reactivation of public facility relocation and land acquisition efforts. Following discussions between Sri Lanka and Japan, decisions have been charted to propel the project’s progression. An initial feasibility study laid the groundwork for this venture, appointing an international consulting firm to devise comprehensive blueprints, contracts, tender documents, estimates, and monitoring services for the Malambe to Pettah LRT route, with an initial allocation of US$120 million.
Commencing in April 2019, this preparatory phase was slated for a 91-month completion. However, the project encountered a halt on December 31, 2020, after a 21-month consultation period. Notably, despite the cessation of activities, 60% of the fundamental scheme plans and 78% of the detailed blueprints were already finalized. Soil tests and pre-feasibility studies were also completed until the Malambe section.
The acquisition of land for the project initiated, identifying a total area of 22 hectares. Although much of the land acquisition phase is near completion, compensation for the acquired lands remains outstanding.
With substantial progress made in planning and preliminary groundwork, the Sri Lanka-Japan negotiations are pivotal in rekindling hopes for the LRT project’s revival, poised to alleviate transportation challenges and enhance connectivity across targeted areas.