Pic by Arthur Wamanan

India’s Ircon International Limited last week said it is looking to expand its footprint in Sri Lanka and assured the government of Sri Lanka of their continued support to uplift the transport sector and develop the rail infrastructure in the country. Ircon’s announcement comes after its recent successful completion of the 265 kilometre reconstructed rail network in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka.

“IRCON is hopeful that consequent to the formation of the new National government in the country, the process of upgrading the rail tracks especially in the Northern Province would accelerate.  Further, Ministry of Transport/Sri Lanka Railways are also in the process of preparing a master plan for 2020 and it is expected that all the projects under this plan shall be monitored by a special team nominated for this purpose. It is also understood that of top priority in this master plan is to ensure that the Colombo to Jaffna and Colombo to Trincomalee train journeys are reduced to less than 5 hours which is a long cherished dream of many Sri Lankans,” Ircon said in a statement last week.

According to the firm, the upgradation of the railway network in the country is very essential for providing a safe, fast and efficient public transport system to citizens, which helps in the overall development of the country.

Sri Lanka has been actively considering the utilization of the available Indian Line of Credit for financing railway projects. Furthermore, a new line of credit amounting to USD 318 million was also announced during the visit of the Indian Premier to Sri Lanka in March 2015. The Line of Credit is being extended by the Government of India as a soft loan having very attractive terms and very low interest rates.  The issue of the upgrading of the railway track using Indian expertise and financial assistance was also discussed extensively during the visit of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to India in September this year.

Meanwhile, Project Director, IRCON, S.L. Gupta expressed satisfaction of the newly constructed tracks. He commented that Sri Lanka Railways is operating six pairs of trains to Jaffna every day and all trains are learnt to be running full, thereby earning huge financial revenues for the Govt. of Sri Lanka.  He also expressed satisfaction of the many new employment opportunities created due to the construction of these railway lines and the benefits derived due to the many Corporate Social Responsibility endeavours undertaken by IRCON locally.