Work on the fourth stage of the construction of the Southern Expressway has hit a major snag due to a massive 100-foot crater spreading over two acres of land is blocking the road trace earmarked for the project.
According to engineers, the crater is part of a rock quarry operated by an individual with political backing. The feasibility reports were already completed for the said location under the Southern Expressway extension project. It is estimated that closing up of of the 100-foot deep crater would cost the Road Development Authority an additional whopping Rs 386 million.
The RDA was faced with this predicament when work commenced on the fourth stage of the Southern Expressway that would link the Mattala Airport and the Southern Expressway. On January 19, 2016, the work on the fourth stage of the Southern Expressway was handed over to contractors.
The RDA on examining other alternative options to overcome this problem has calculated that if a bridge was to be built over the crater located in the Andarawewa Forest Reserve which is under the purview of the Mahaweli Development Authority, the additional cost will be Rs 630 million.
While drafting the feasibility report in 2013 engineers recommended that part of the rock that extended from Andarawewa area to the eight and half mile post of the Expressway be removed and the road be laid over it.
Notwithstanding, the macro-plans of the RDA, the Mahaweli Development Authority had made arrangements to lease the land area in question to the brother of a politician, for quarrying. The permit for quarry activity was granted by the Mahaweli Development Authority and Geological Survey and Mines Bureau with a blatant disregard for Expressway plans. Despite repeated directives issued by the RDA to halt operations, quarry operations had not ceased.
Investigations revealed that the individual who obtained the land from the Mahaweli Development Authority had paid only Rs 300,000, as lease rental.