- Sri Lanka Optimistic On PPPs For LRT – Dr. Dimantha de Silva
by Santhush Fernando
Sri Lanka is upbeat on finishing two lines out of the seven earmarked under the public-private partnership (PPP) model as part of the US$ 3.5 billion Light Rail Transit (LRT) project; even prior to the completion of the JICA-funded two lanes, a top transport sector academic told The Sunday Leader.
“Already EoIs (Expression of interest) for the feasibility studies of the two Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) funded projects have been issued end of last month. In addition two lines out of the remaining five lines would be issued as soon as time permits. We are hopeful that these two PPP lines could be completed before JICA-funded lines. As such whichever finishes the first line would naturally have advantage over other bidders,” opined Senior Lecturer, Transport Engineering Division, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Moratuwa – Dr. Dimantha de Silva.
Last November, the Cabinet of Ministers on principle approved the Western Region Megalopolis Project (WRMP) master plan and gave green light to the Light Rail Transit project.
As such the government would be commissioning the feasibility study for two (Malabe Line and Colombo Circular Line) out of seven lines to Japanese stakeholders. JICA earlier conducted a feasibility on the Monorail which is more or less similar to LRT. Plus the Government of Japan is keen to provide Sri Lanka with highly concessionary funding of US$ 1.25 billion as a step loan at an interest of 0.1% per annum over period of 40 years plus repayment starts after 10 years into operation.
According to Dr. de Silva., the highly concessionary loan scheme is available only till Sri Lanka graduates to upper middle income country and stands to lose if so.
“Optimistically speaking if we start the feasibility study by 2017, the project would be able to kick off Phase I by 2018 with detail designs and then construction and Sri Lanka would be able work out some operation by 3-4 years after feasibility which means within 2021,” Dr. de Silva earlier told The Sunday Leader.
Sri Lanka plans to issue EoIs for the feasibility study for remaining 5 lines in parallel to the JICA-funded lines.
“Once that is completed the government would call for request for proposals (RFPs) to spearhead the remaining five lines on a PPP (Public–private partnership) basis.
The government is adamant on completing both the JICA-funded lines and the PPP-funded lines in the interest of the country and ease the traffic congestion issue which had become a major bottleneck to economic growth, a source told The Sunday Leader on basis of anonymity.