Belt and Road Initiative: Highways change lives in Sri Lanka

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail CGTN, July 12, 2022

Sri Lanka has been an integral part of China's Belt and Road Initiative. China has invested billions of dollars in an overhaul of infrastructure in the island nation. One such project is the over-200-kilometer-long Southern Expressway, which has benefited many Sri Lankans. Ravinder Bawa reports from Hambantota.

Indunil Lakshan's day begins early in the morning. He works as a driver in the China State Construction Engineering Corporation or CSCEC. Five years back, while he was still in college, he got a job as a temporary driver with the CSCEC which was constructing the Southern Expressway in Sri Lanka. Today he holds a permanent job and earns a decent salary to afford his life in the capital Colombo.

INDUNIL LAKSHAN Employee, CSCEC "Life has changed, as now I live in Colombo in a rented accommodation provided by the company. I've become distant from my parents and family since I don't live in my village. My life has changed in all aspects. I have adapted to new ways."

With a constant salary, Indunil took a loan to buy a new carriage truck for his father G H Gunaratne. His father started a new business of transporting vegetables from the village to the capital city in this truck. The family income tripled as the new highway was opened up for Lankans. Now Gunaratne does more trips to the city in a week, which has given him financial stability.

GH GUNA RATNE Father of Indunil Lakshan "I've been paying the vehicle lease and it's nearing completion. I'm hoping to lease another vehicle. I've got my own house and was able to put money into children's education."

The Southern Expressway Extension has changed lives for many Sri Lankans. It is a key project of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road co-developed by Chinese and Sri Lankan governments. At a total length of 96 kilometers, the expressway extension was divided into four parts. The second and the third parts were built by CSCEC.

CHENG HUAQIANG Deputy General Manager, CSCEC Sri Lanka "Since 2012, CSCEC has actively engaged in the construction of highways, roads, high-end housing, etc. in Sri Lanka, promoted traffic interconnection and improved the lives of local residents. Since the opening of the Southern Expressway Extension Line Project, the project has reduced the driving time from Colombo to Hambantota port from more than five hours to about two hours, greatly facilitating the regional economic development."

The Southern Expressway Extension effectively improves connectivity among cities and promotes local tourism, which substantially reduces the time for cargo and passenger transport between two major ports of Colombo and Hambantota. Meanwhile, the construction of the project has created more than 2,000 jobs locally and cultivated a large number of professional and skilled workers. Just like Indunil Lakshan, who grows together with the Expressway, embarks on a new journey ahead. Ravinder Bawa, CGTN, Hambantota.

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