USAID builds new Arugam Bay bridge

[TamilNet, Monday, 07 August 2006, 11:01 GMT]
The U. S. Agency for International Development (USAID) began work on two-span 185 meter bridge at a cost of nearly US$10.6m. The new bridge "will connect the communities of Pottuvil, Arugam Bay and Panama to enhance economic expansion of the fishing, agriculture and tourist industries," a press release issued by the US Embassy in Sri Lanka Monday said.

Arugambay
Library photo
Full text of the press release follows:

ARUGAM BAY-August 7, 2006: The U. S. Agency for International Development (USAID) officially commenced work on a state-of-the-art bridge over Arugam Bay. The new bridge will replace the original bridge that was devastated in the tsunami and is the single largest infrastructure project in USAID's Sri Lanka Tsunami Reconstruction Program (SLTRP).

Designed to last 100 years, the two spans totaling 185 meters will connect the communities of Pottuvil, Arugam Bay and Panama to enhance economic expansion of the fishing, agriculture and tourist industries. Construction of 900 meters of asphalt paved access roads, and improvements to water supply systems will complement the improved access the new bridge will foster tourism for scenic Arugam Bay. The value of the project is approximately $10.6 million.

The groundbreaking ceremony included Chairman of the Road Development Authority, M. B. S. Fernando, USAID Director Dr. Carol Becker, and U.S. Embassy Charge d'Affaires James Moore in his first official function since arriving in Sri Lanka. Several hundred community members participated in the event.

"No one can repair the loss of life wrought by the tsunami," said Dr. Becker said. "Yet reconstruction affords us the opportunity to help the country develop economically. Beautiful Arugam Bay has tremendous potential to be a highlight of Sri Lanka for tourists, and we hope a strong permanent bridge across the bay and infrastructure improvements in the surrounding areas will bring together ethnically diverse communities in the east."

The plan for the development scheme was created in consultation with the people of Pottuvil, Arugam Bay and Panama. Women and members of all the various ethnic and religious communities enthusiastically embraced the new bridge and water supply improvements, expressing hope that the project would bring them out of the relative isolation experienced due to location and years of conflict.

"Other projects have come to our area, but they did not bother to talk to the community," said Niroshana Silva, Chairman of the Lahugala Pradesha Saba, and resident of Panama. "The bridge is important for all the people living in this area. Given this opportunity, we must try to cooperate on the issues we raise and bend our heads for the greater good."

The project will be executed by an American firm, CH2M Hill. Community consultations established that the local work force will be utilized as much as possible, and continued strong community support will be a key factor in ensuring the success of the project.

"This contribution of the United States will have a lasting impact on these communities," said Mr. Moore. "For a long time, the beauty of Arugam Bay has been one of Sri Lanka's best-kept secrets. We are confident these infrastructure improvements will bring the communities in the area together and improve their lives."

Arugam Bay bridge
RDA Chairman M.B.S. Fernando joins U.S. Chargé d' Affaires James Moore, USAID Director Dr. Carol Becker and CH2M Hill Chief of Party Teny Mittal.


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