|Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy
For the road sector in Sri Lanka, the end of nearly three decades of civil war in the country's northern and eastern provinces presents special challenges as well as opportunities. The prolonged neglect and underinvestment in the conflict affected region has caused the roads to lie in a state of total disrepair which require immediate and sustained investment. Particularly in the Northern Province (NP), the damage to physical infrastructure was severe and extensive due to the intensity of conflict toward war's end. As the Government is carrying out the resettlement of the displaced population in the region, reestablishment of linkages to social services and markets through robust road network is essential for normal socio-economic activities and civil life to return.
NP's population is about 1.2 million as the 3rd populous province in the country. The poverty level is well below the national average with recorded per capita annual income of 89,907 Sri Lankan Rupees (approximately $810), compared with the national average of 178,783 Sri Lankan Rupees (approximately $1,610).
NP covers an area of 8,844 square meters and its road network includes 1,259 km of national highways, 1,960 km of provincial roads, and approximately 5,400 km of rural roads. The road density is about 1.0 km per square meter, which is among the lowest in the country. Due to neglect and damages sustained during the period of conflict, almost all roads are termed to be in very poor condition.
The mobility between the north and the south is being restored and the Government has started introducing transport services, including the scheduled bus service between Colombo, the country's capital, and Jaffna, the northern provincial capital. However, the condition of national highways, the backbones arterial roads connecting the north and the south, is inadequate, varying from poor to very poor surface conditions. Insufficient investment in rehabilitation and improvement has resulted in low travel speed and poor service. This has discouraged long distance travel to the north and, ultimately, hindered the spread of economic activities and development. Enhancing road connectivity between the north and the south is vital in restoring mobility of people and goods, and will play an important role in integrating the country.
The Project is proposed to rehabilitate about 141 km of provincial roads and 58 km of national highways within NP and improve about 62 km of link national highways in the North Central Province (NCP) including a section of A009 which serves as the backbone arterial highway connecting to south. The Project is timely and targeted - to help restore accessibility to essential social services for rural people in NP and to improve its nation wide connectivity. It will facilitate economic growth and contribute to reducing disparities in Sri Lanka, consistent with the key goals of the Government?s 10-Year Development Framework (10YDF, 2007-2016), which emphasizes equitable growth.
The Project supports the strategic objective established in ADB's Country Strategy and Program (2009-2011): To improve transport system in Sri Lanka, promoting regionally balanced and socially inclusive economic growth. The Project is included in the Country Operations Business Plan, Sri Lanka (2010-2012).