Chief Government Whip and Highways Minister, Johnston Fernando said yesterday, September 12, that the second phase of the Central Expressway would be vested with the public on November 13.
Speaking to the media at a ceremony to launch a project to plant 1,000,000 saplings along the roads, countrywide, as per the stipulation pledged in the Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa by planting a sapling at the second phase stretch of the Central Expressway from Meerigama to Pothuhera on Sunday, the Minister said, “Work of the second phase of the Central Expressway should have been completed 19 months back if not for the deliberate delays caused by the companies contracted by the Yahapalana government which gave the tenders to their cronies”.
“If not for that delay, people would have been using this road for the past 10 months. We had to cancel the contracts that had been given to such saboteurs and go before the courts against them. Now we can open this road on Nov 15 and vest it with the public,” he also said.
In answer to a question by journalists on emergency regulations, which, the Opposition says, are being abused to suppress people’s rights, the Minister said, “Who is making these allegations? It is the very same people who once made wild allegations that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, claiming that during the previous Rajapaksa government, people were abducted, killed and fed to crocodile”.
“The emergency laws were declared to prevent the consumers being fleeced by black marketeers who jack up the prices of essential food items according to their whims and fancies. We are passing an extra-ordinary time that needs extra-ordinary measures such as the activation of the emergency laws to ensure food security in the country. These laws will be there for a short time,” he also said.
“We as a nation have performed well and world leaders and WHO experts have lauded the government for its vaccination drive. It was delayed for sometimes because Sajith Premadasa and his men created a fear among people. Premadasa alleged that the government was trying to convert the country into a large lab for testing vaccines. He said those vaccines had not yet been properly tested conducting human trials. He used social media to instill fear among people against vaccines. He said that those who go vaccinated would die in two years and predicted various after effects. They still do so. I saw a doctor, connected to the Opposition, spreading false rumours about the vaccination drive. While we and the President are trying to make the vaccination drive a success, Premadasa and his men try to sabotage it. Their only wish is to grab power even at the cost of people’s lives. Those who criticise us are used to lead people to their death. In 1971, they got around 12,000 killed and over 60,000 youth in 1988-89 period,” the Minister said.
The sapling planting ceremony commenced at the Meerigama Intersection of the Central Expressway. Over 200 saplings of Magul Karanda (Millettia pinnata) and Robarosiya (Tabebuia Rosea) saplings were planted along the road at the ceremony.