Plans for 250 New Bridges to Boost Rural Connectivity across the County

  • As the Economy Develops, Benefits should be Ensured for the Poorest of the Poor.
  • Government Aims to Reduce Multidimensional Poverty to 10% – President Says at the Commemoration of Successful Completion of 750 Rural Bridges by the Netherlands for the Government of Sri Lanka.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe announced plans to construct 250 new bridges across Sri Lanka to enhance road connectivity and maximize the benefits of national development projects for rural communities.

The President made this announcement while addressing a celebration at the Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo (03), marking the successful completion of 750 rural bridges by Janson Bridging International from the Netherlands over the period 2014-2024.

During his address, President Wickremesinghe emphasized the government’s commitment to improving the living conditions of people in areas connected by these bridges. He underscored the importance of ensuring that the benefits of economic development reach the poorest segments of society.

The celebration highlighted the significant impact of the completed 750 bridges in improving accessibility and fostering development in various rural parts of Sri Lanka, underscoring the collaborative efforts between Sri Lanka and the Netherlands in infrastructure development.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe highlighted the government’s goal to reduce multidimensional poverty to 10% by focusing on rural communities. He emphasized the critical role of infrastructure projects in rural areas in achieving this objective. The President expressed his gratitude to the government of the Netherlands for their support in this endeavour.

During the celebration at the Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo, President Wickremesinghe and the Ambassador of the Netherlands to Sri Lanka H.E. Bonnie Horbach were presented with a plaque. This commemorative plaque marked the 10th anniversary of Janson Bridging International and celebrated the successful completion of 750 bridges in Sri Lanka over the past decade.

Addressing the gathering the President further said,

We are here to witness the completion of 750 bridges constructed by Janson Bridging. This is a formidable task that they have successfully accomplished. I am familiar with the areas where these rural bridges were built. While bridges are easier to construct than highways, they were nevertheless constructed in remote and difficult places. These bridges collectively enhance the living conditions of the connected areas.

Connectivity is crucial over rivers, over bridges, and even in terms of speed. This extensive network of connectivity enables us to transport goods to the main highways and send them to Colombo or other major cities. This project is significant, and we aim to complete another 250 bridges, making it a total of 1,000.

Why is this necessary? The poverty rate in our country has increased from about 15% in 2019 to over 25%. We are committed to reducing it to 10% by 2032. The agreement signed with the IMF is not just about statistics; as the economy develops, we must ensure it benefits the poorest of the poor. Our goal is to reduce multidimensional poverty to 10%, focusing on those in rural areas.

Connectivity projects like this help us reach this target. The economic and social benefits are evident, and we will see the impact within five years of the project’s completion. I also thank the Government of the Netherlands for their contribution to these projects. Together with the Ambassador, we opened four hospitals in the Northern Province, serving different communities.

These two projects significantly uplift Sri Lanka s rural communities. When I became president, I was committed to advancing these projects, recognizing their critical impact. Thank you again for these initiatives and for returning the Lewke Disawe s artwork. I have no doubt there will be much more to come.

Due to the adverse weather, we are facing a flood situation that has already claimed many lives. The government has committed to rebuilding all the houses completely destroyed by this calamity with the help of the armed forces. After receiving reports on partially damaged buildings, related decisions will be made. The Prime Minister is scheduled to present an urgent cabinet paper on this matter to the cabinet this evening.

Additionally, I have instructed the release of available funds to provide all necessary relief for the affected people. District Secretaries have been directed to promptly prepare estimates for all necessary provisions.

In 2017, the government spent Rs. 170 billion to address disaster-related issues, where 13 districts were in a state of disaster. This time, some provinces have not suffered from major damages. Nonetheless, we aim to allocate all necessary funds to settle disaster damages this year and next year.

The Ambassador of the Netherlands to Sri Lanka H.E. Bonnie Horbach,

It is an absolute honour to be here today to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Janson Bridging in Sri Lanka and the completion of 750 bridges over the past decade.

Janson Bridging has spent the last 10 years in Sri Lanka building bridges, not the fancy ones we often think of, but those that connect people, unlock opportunities and directly benefit local communities.

Leadership is about unlocking people’s potential to become better. Your Excellency, Mr. President, you demonstrated leadership two years ago during the country’s worst economic crisis. At that time, important and difficult decisions had to be made about which investments to continue and which to delay.

The event was attended by Member of Parliament Wajira Abeywardena, Deputy Head of Mission of the Netherlands Mr. Iwan Rutjens, Chairman of Access Group Mr. Sumal Perera, Managing Director of Foresight Engineering Mr. Theo Fernando, and the Managing Director of Janson Bridging International Mr. Dirk Fransen, along with other distinguished guests.