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    Infrastructure Development from the Doers perspective highlighted by Engineering Professionals

    January 06, 2015

    The Sri Lanka Engineering Professionals’ Association (SLEPA) recently held a forum titled ‘The Doers Perspective of the Talkers Hot Topic: Infrastructure Development,’ at the Cinnamon Lakeside hotel in Colombo. The event which was attended to capacity was organized to present facts and data on development projects undertaken by the current government in order to counter false propaganda disseminated by various political groups discrediting the work of engineers and other professionals.

    The keynote speaker at the event was Mr. R. W. R. Pemasiri – Secretary, Ministry of Highways, Ports and Shipping while the panel discussion that followed saw the participation of Mr. R. M. Gamini – Senior Project Director, Southern Highway Extension Project; Mr. N. K. L. Nethithikumara – Project Director, Outer Circular Highway Phase III; Mr. Nihal Somaweera – Secretary, Ministry of Water Supply and Drainage; Mr. Ivan De Silva – Secretary, Ministry of Irrigation; Mr. Susantha Abeysiriwardene – Project Director, Port City; Mr. Rohan Manukulasooriya – Marketing Head, Airport and Aviation; Mr. Anurudhdha Padeniya – President, Government Medical Officers Association and Mr. Harsha Subasinghe – CEO, CodeGen.


    Delivering the keynote presentation Mr. Pemasiri spoke on ‘The True Story of Road Development’ which contained detailed descriptions of the Expressway Projects. Whilst comprehensively covering the Southern Highway project giving technical and financial data, he expressed concern and disappointment at the allegations made on the handling of these vital road projects and urged the public not to be misled by distortions made for political gains. He also rebutted the recent analysis done by an industry professional which was made using improper data and without even contacting the RDA. He explained why some of the initial estimated costs had increased and showed that none of the expressway costs are more than the norm. He emphasized that correct procedures have been followed at every step of the projects and urged the public to investigate the data presented by the RDA without falling for political propaganda. A booklet containing data from all projects was distributed amongst the audience.


    At the panel discussion that followed, Mr. Rohan Manukulasooriya explained the need for a second airport and reasons for choosing Mattala as the preferred location. He denied the alleged Rs 16,000 per month income for the Mattala Airport stating that it was a misleading statement. Due to the geographical location of the Mattala airport, the use of Sri Lankan airspace by carriers such as Etihad, Emirates and Qantas has increased recently yielding significant income.


    Mr. Susantha Abeysiriwardane gave an overview of the Colombo Port City project and explained in detail the results of the studies done to evaluate the environmental impact which found no evidence of harm to the coastline.


    Mr. Ivan De Silva briefed the audience on the development work done by the Irrigation Authority and explained how community water supplies for drinking and agriculture which were not given high priority against power generation projects before, have now progressed. He also highlighted their work to improve the quality of drinking water to avoid health risks such as kidney disease, particularly in the Central Province. 


    Dr. Padeniya explained the improvements in the public health sector that have been made under the current government such as increasing the wages of healthcare workers including doctors and increasing funding for health infrastructure. He pointed out that the government has listened to the concerns raised by healthcare professionals particularly regarding prevention of non-communicable diseases. Prevention strategies suitable for Sri Lanka are now being introduced rather than focusing on importing interventional equipment from Western countries.


    A question posted by one of the participants quoting certain statements from some recent media articles about the performance of Colombo and Hambantota port was answered by the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority Dr. Priyath Wickrema who was a participant at the forum. He stressed that the allegations about the low number of ships that called over at these two ports were mainly due to the current ships that dock being much larger with a higher volume, hence the number of ships was lower. Regarding loans and interest, he highlighted that the SLPA has recorded substantial profits after making all relevant payments in respect of loan installments and interest thereof. The Hambatota Port will be breaking even within 5 years of its operations, he added. 


    The Sri Lanka Engineering Professionals Association is a representative body of engineering professionals in Sri Lanka that fulfills a long felt need of an organization to protect employment rights, industrial relations and the professional status of the exponents of this key industry. (KH)

    Last modified on Tuesday, 06 January 2015 16:14

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