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The Sri Lankan government has cancelled a light rail project that was to be built with Japanese financial assistance in the country's biggest city, Colombo.
The reasons given were that many houses and business premises would have to be destroyed during construction, important wetlands would be severely damaged, the cost of constructing the elevated track would be immense and operating costs excessive.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency signed a concessionary loan agreement with Sri Lanka for about ¥30 billion (9 billlion baht) in March last year for the Light Railway Track System, the total cost of which would be about ¥246.6 billion.
"We are (now) thinking of a more efficient project that can achieve the same results but within $500 million (15 billion baht). We believe we can do that," cabinet spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella told reporters.
"It will be very successful," he added, without elaborating.
According to a letter dated Sept 21 and circulated on social media, P. B. Jayasundara, secretary to the President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, called the JICA-sponsored project "very costly and not the appropriate cost-effective transport solution for the urban Colombo transportation infrastructure."
According to JICA, the plan was to build 16 kilometres of rail with 16 stations with a view to eliminating traffic congestion in Colombo.
In Sri Lanka, China is increasing its influence by supporting port development projects under the "One Belt, One Road" initiative. Japan has also embarked on support for port projects, restraining China's advance.
This article first appeared on www.bangkokpost.com
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