Sri Lanka will engage SMEC International (Pty) Ltd, an Australia-based consultancy to develop an expressway project from the capital Colombo to the North of the island, to lure in more private investments in to the former war-torn part of the country, a minister said.
SMEC International will be contracted to conduct a feasibility study, an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and prepare documents for Requests for Proposals (RFPs) from investors, LBO said quoting Cabinet Spokesman Minister Keheliya Rambukwelle.
SMEC International is also the consultants to the Colombo - Katunayaka Expressway which is now under construction.
Phase One of the Northern Expressway project from Colombo to Jaffna runs from just north of the capital via Kurunegala in the North Western province.
The first part of the Northern Expressway runs from Enderamulla, branching off from Colombo's Outer Circular Highway and ends at Mirigama 42.5 kilometers later.
From Mirigama a 35 kilometer stretch of the expressway passes through Pothupitiya to Pellandeniya about five kilometers away from Kurunegala.
A 44 kilometer link expressway runs from Pothupitiya to within nine kilometres of Katugastota town near Kandy near an existing road (A10) running from Kurunegala to Puttalam.
Treasury Secretary Dr. P B Jayasundera said in May that at least serious bids have come from private investors in three countries to build the expressway which is estimated to cost 1.5 billion rupees.
The rest of the Northern Expressway is anticipated to eventually connect Jaffna. A connection is also expected to Trincomalee, where a mega port-related heavy industrial zone is planned.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa announced an expressway linking Colombo with Tamil-dominated Jaffna, soon after opening Sri Lanka's first expressway connecting the capital, Colombo, with the southern port city of Galle in November 2011, The Hindu reported.
“I will work on the Jaffna expressway so that the distance can be covered in three hours,” said Rajapaksa. Jaffna is about 400 km from Colombo. The A-9 highway to Jaffna, which had not been re-topped in a few decades, is being repaired in stages. A one-way journey takes upwards of 10 hours by bus now.