• Today, the UNP government is surviving on the projects initiated by the Rajapaksa regime

    On Sunday, the Transport Ministry conducted a test run on a newly constructed 26.75 km railway track from Matara to Beliatta, which is the first such railway line to be constructed since the country’s independence.

    The test run was conducted amidst the presence of the now Transport Minister Hon. Arjuna Ranatunga who promised to vest the line with the public before the Sinhala and Tamil New Year.

    This railway project includes the longest and second longest railway bridges of 1.5 kilometers and 1.04 kilometers respectively and includes one of the tallest railway bridges, the longest railway tunnel and the most modern railway station buildings in Sri Lanka.

    This Matara-Beliatta railway line is expected to increase passenger traffic, including tourism into the south and also boost trade between the deep south and Colombo, thereby benefiting the livelihoods of many.

    This project, just like many other mega development projects in Sri Lanka were all initiated and signed under the tenure of my father Hon. Mahinda Rajapaksa during his presidency. Today, Sri Lanka has seen development because of the strong vision Hon. Rajapaksa had for this country to make Sri Lanka a dynamic hub in the Indian Ocean.

    Following the victory of our armed forces against the LTTE terrorists in 2009, Hon. Rajapaksa wasted no time in inviting investors into the country so that Sri Lanka’s true potential could be tapped. Within a short span of time, Hon. Rajapaksa and his government approved the construction of highways, roads, the development of our ports, airport and invited popular global hotel chains to invest in the island country.

    Within a few years, Sri Lanka welcomed the construction of the Colombo Port City, the Hambantota Port, the development of the Colombo Port, construction of the southern expressway, the Colombo-Katunayaka expressway, and many such projects which benefited each and every citizen of this country in some way. These projects created jobs, made travel easy, and to a great extent was an attraction for more investors to enter the country.

    Today, ill tell u some of the benefits of these projects. The Colombo Port City is expected to attract at least 13 billion dollars worth of investments in the coming 20 years and will make Sri Lanka compete with nations such as Dubai and Singapore. Further, it will create at least 80,000 jobs and will also be seen as a financial hub.

    Then the Colombo Port has its own success story. Today, the Colombo Port has emerged as one of the leading ports in the world and last year, broke a new record by welcoming seven million containers. The Hambantota Port, equally has boosted development in the district and is also seen as a vital port due to its close proximity to international shipping routes. In a few years, it is expected to be in par with other global leading ports.

    The Colombo, Katunayaka expressway has also benefited thousands of citizens. It has shortened travel time from Colombo to the Bandaranaika International Airport, which investors, locals and tourists see as an advantage. The southern expressway and the newly constructed roads to the north also share its own success stories.

    The many projects initiated by the Rajapaksa regime have lifted Sri Lanka’s image globally. Today, Colombo has earned the tag line as the fastest growing city in South Asia due to the investments and strong policies of the Rajapaksa government. Even the rural areas, and the north which suffered the brunt of the war benefited from the development carried out back then. Youth had jobs, the cost of living was controlled, livelihoods were secured and the economy was strengthened. However following the 2015 elections, Sri Lanka today has fallen back into an era of suffering, increased poverty, zero development, high taxes, a soaring cost of living and an increasing unemployment rate.

    Today, four years later, the UNP government are only surviving on the projects initiated by the Rajapaksa government. While in four years, Sri Lanka could have leaped forward much further, we unfortunately have only moved backwards, with a struggling economy. We are at a point of crisis and the weak policies of the UNP government have only pushed us backwards. Four years on, senior UNP Ministers are still assuring the public that it will introduce investor friendly policies which will attract investments. This has been nothing but talk.

    Four years is a time too long. Hon Rajapaksa, seeing the crisis Sri Lanka is in, is calling for a snap general election. The UNP government has failed us entirely and it is time we now make efforts to move forward again. After all, Sri Lanka did not fight this hard for peace, to be tagged as a failed state

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