OCTOBER 23, 2014
One of the long awaited dreams of Sri Lanka became a reality with the opening of its first highway, E-01 on 27th of November, 2011. This highway was only the beginning, after that Sri Lanka has got involved in developing many other pending highways, like the extension of the Southern Highway up to Godagama - Matara.
With the extension of the Southern Highways southwards, the other end of it is connected to OCH, i.e., the Outer Circular Highway, which was designed for the purpose of connecting to the other highways in the other parts of the country from the outer circle of Colombo.
Beginning from Kottawa of the Southern Highways, OCH is now at its final stages, moving across Kottawa, Pore, Athurgiriya and Kothalawala, for being linked to Malabe – Kaduwela in its first phase.
Nirmala Kothalawala, the Project Minister of Ports and Highways, has said that the first phase of OCH is due to be completed by the end of this year.
The Minister has said that the government had to face a lot of issues when the plan of the Southern Highway was being implemented. This is because the original design of it was planned to be a two-lane express way. This design was changed into a four-lane way and later into six-lane way.
This is likely not to happen with the OCH project as it has been planned to be a four-lane highway, and land has been acquired to widen it into six-lane, in case need arises in the future. Moreover, the project has been designed in accordance with accepted international standards.
He also added that the second and the third phases of the project which extend from Kaduwela to Kadawatha and from Kadawatha to Kerawalapitiya have been done at an expense of Rs. 1.1 billion. Though the contribution of foreign countries is being talked about, the Sri Lankan government is making no less contribution to the project.
The prime motive behind the development of OCH is to connect with all the important roads in the country, allowing all motorists to avoid Colombo for going to their destinations.
With the construction of OCH people can reach their destinations bypassing the city of Colombo, thus, saving much of their time.
The project’s first phase is an 11 km long stretch made with a cost of around Rs. 25 billion, and it is being funded by JICA or Japan International Cooperation Agency. The first phase, i.e., the stretch from Kottawa to Kothalawala will be including eight overpass bridges.
Nirmala Kothalawala has said that the original plan does not give access to Malabe-Athurugiriya road, and to Malabe-Kaduwela road; two temporary entry and exit points have been included at Athurugiriya in order to connect OCH to Malabe-Athurugiriya road and to connect OCH to Malabe-Kaduwela or the new Kandy road at Kothalawala – Kaduwela. The changes have been made in order to hasten the construction of the first phase; otherwise, the completion of the first phase would have to wait for the completion of the entire project.
A very important feature of the first phase is the 3.3 bridge standing on pillars, which runs between Malabe – Kaduwela road and Malabe – Athurugiriya road. This bridge is considered to be the longest in the country till date. The bridge passes through the famous Maha Wela located in Kothalawala, Kaduwela, which retains the overflowing Kelani Ganga during the monsoon, creating picturesque scenery.
Though people are worried about the impact that this project may be having on environment, they can actually stay tension free because enough steps are being taken to avoid any kind of harmful effect. The welfare of the common people has been considered by the Sri Lankan government.
OCH as a whole is almost 30 km long and will be having five points of entry and exit at Kerawalapitiya, Mattumagala, Kadawatha, Kaduwela, Athurugiriya and Kottawa.
The second phase of the project, extending from Kaduwela to Kadawatha will be about 8.9 km road, and will be funded by JICA at a cost Rs. 45 billion. It will have about three bridges across Kelani River flowing through Hewagama, Kaduwela will be facilitating the interchange there and it is going to have a bridge of 4.7 km. The project’s second phase will be completed by 2015.
The third phase of OCH will be from Kadawatha to Kerawalapitiya. The Rs. 66 billion stretch will have a 6 km bridge, 2 under-passes and 5 over-passes.
Minolma Fenandiz is a writing articles, script, stories for newspapers magazines. Professional blogger and author of "Sri Lanka Gude Book". Join me on Google+