September 13, 2011
Japan International Cooperation Agency's (JICA) Chief Representative Mr. Akira Shimura and the Secretary of the Ministry of Finance and Planning Dr. P.B. Jayasundera signed Grant Agreement today to commence necessary work to construct a 210 meter long bridge across the Baticaloa Lagoon area with the grant amounting to Japanese Yen 1,206 million (approximately Rs. 1,600 million).
Currently, local people have to travel more than 1 hour on road going to the other side of the Lagoon or use small ferries, which operates twice in an hour and accommodates only two vehicles at a time. This severely constrains the people from accessing basic social infrastructures such as health and education services and transporting commercial goods to the other areas.
For the reconstruction and development of the Eastern part of the country, JICA, especially after the Tsunami disaster in 2004, supported infrastructures such as building roads, water supply, bridges, and irrigation facilities with combining necessary technical cooperation. A beneficiary from the Pulugunawa Tank area, one of the JICA funded irrigation project's site, mentioned that "This bridge has been our long-cherished wish over the decades. Once the bridge is constructed, access to the other side of the Lagoon will dramatically be improved."
Mr. Shimura emphasized that "The Eastern part of Sri Lanka has a huge potential in terms of agriculture and other sectors. Therefore, our wish is not only to support the people in the area, but to improve the connectivity from the East to the Central part of the country to boost stronger economic growth of the country."
The said Grant Agreement was signed successively after the Exchange of Notes was signed between H.E. Kunio Takahashi, Ambassador of Japan in Sri Lanka and Dr. P.B. Jayasundera, Secretary, Ministry of Finance and Planning at the Ministry of Finance and Planning.