President Mahinda Rajapaksa is to ceremonially open the Manmunai Bridge in Batticaloa today (April 19).
The bridge which is the first east-west land connection across the Batticaloa lagoon has been constructed through a 1,206 million Japanese Yen (approximately Rs. 2 billion) grant from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
The 210m long bridge enables land access to markets and services on the east side of the lagoon where Batticaloa township is located, especially for the farmer community on the west side.
At present, access between the west and east banks is by a small ferry. The area is affected by floods two to three times a year, during which time the ferry cannot operate, and people had to detour about 30km to access the other side.
The new bridge also connects the improved provincial road network on either side of the lagoon, opening an alternative road link to and from Batticaloa town to other areas of the country.
The project was implemented by the Road Development Authority (RDA) of the Ministry of Ports and Highways in cooperation with JICA. The Manmunai Bridge construction commenced in 2012, to mark 60 years of diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and Japan.
Kiyoshi Amada, Chief representative of JICA’s Colombo Office has said they are happy to see the construction completed ahead of schedule, and also very pleased to note that this has been a very safe construction site with zero accidents or injuries. About 250 people of this area were employed by the Japanese construction company during the construction, in line with Japan's ODA policy of contributing to improving the living standards of the people of recipient countries. Jica appreciated the contribution and teamwork of the RDA, Consultant and Contractor which made all this possible.
JICA's recent assistance to the Eastern Province includes reconstruction of rural and national roads, including the new Kallady Bridge, development of water supply systems and rectification of flood damaged infrastructure through Official Development Assistance loans, and reconstruction of five bridges on the A5 and A15 through grant assistance.