The Sunday Leader

Attempts To Revive Another ‘White Elephant’

by Hafsa Sabry

The Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium

The Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium (MRICS) in Sooriyawewa was constructed for international cricket matches using public funds but is now home to birds and stray animals.

The MRICS in Hambantota is among the “white elephant” projects of the former regime which the current government is now attempting to revive.

The walls, carpets, furniture and equipment in the stadium are in a severe state of neglect and deterioration without any attempt to revive the facility to its earlier status.

The stadium is equipped with flood lights and other facilities to feature day and night matches.

Although a few matches were played at the stadium after it was declared open under the former government,  the stadium has not seen any games as of late and so it has been given out on rent for private events, including weddings at Rs. 10,000 a day. It is also disheartening that the road which leads to the main entrance of the Sooriyawewa International stadium is now being used by local farmers to dry their grains which include sesame and mung beans. Farmers from Sooriyawewa, Meegahajadura and Mattala bring in their crops in hand-tractors and drop them on the road. Due to the  low population in the area, the road is being used to dry crops grown by the farmers.

The cricket stadium can accommodate 35,000 people making it the second largest stadium in Sri Lanka.The proposal for the International Cricket Stadium at Sooriyawewa was part of the former government’s programme to develop sports in the Southern Province as part of a plan to transform Hambantota into the second major urban hub of Sri Lanka, away from Colombo.

The stadium has being constructed with high interest loans that the Government had trouble paying back. Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake had said earlier that Hambantota needs water tanks and not stadiums.

Karunanayake charged that the government was using the money of innocent taxpayers to pay for ill-advised, unsuccessful projects.

The President of Sri Lanka Cricket Board Thilanga Sumathipala, speaking to the media said the stadium had been abandoned due to a  lack of funds for maintenance and the responsible authorities will look into maintaining the stadium and to make it suitable to commence cricket matches in the near future.

“A large amount of money has to be spent on the air conditioning for the rooms of coaches and the players as there is a lack of air conditioning facilities there. 200,000LKR has to be allocated for the air-conditioning when there is a match and therefore we will be allocating the necessary money to renovate it,” he added.

In February this year when Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe visited the Hambantota Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium he had discussions with the President and the staff members of the Sri Lanka Cricket on how to sustain and maximise the utilisation of the stadium in the future. At this discussion the Prime Minister agreed to assist the Sri Lanka Cricket Board with hotel facilities in the vicinity of the stadium for the benefit and convenience of the visiting teams.

Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara said that the stadium was left unattended by the previous government but now the stadium is being cleared and steps will be taken to renovate and maintain the

2 Comments for “Attempts To Revive Another ‘White Elephant’”

  1. Cobra

    Let it be known that white, grey or even pink you can get an elephant to work-at least to move huge logs around!!!

  2. Has the minister Dayasiri Jayasekarka sold his vehicle which he imported recently taxfree to highest amount. All are daylight thieves.

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