ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday March 2, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 40
Kandy Times  

Railways need Rs 1 bln a year but gets only Rs 250 mln income

Kandy railway station spruced up for SAARC summit

By L.B. Senaratne

At a time when the Railways Department has no money to even replace a burnt bulb and there is a financial stress according to the Minister of Transport Dullas Allahaperuma, the Chevron company has stepped in to renovate the Kandy Railway Station in the next three years at a cost of Rs 7 million for which an MoU was signed recently at the Kandy Railway Station.

The face-lift for the station is also in preparation for the 15th SAARC Summit to be held in Kandy in July. Chevron will undertake the landscaping of the garden, car park and main entrance, whilst at the same time renovating and painting of the complete railways station building and lobby flooring. It will also undertake the complete renovation of both the ladies and gents rest rooms which at present are in an unusable state. The installation of new platform benches for the convenience of commuters will also be part of this initiative together with the assigning of new waste collection facility within the station and new displays for train time tables. The organisation will also undertake the construction of the storm water drainage system which is a pressing problem at the Kandy Railway station.

Picture shows Kishu Gomes, Managing Director / CEO, Chevron Lubricants Lanka PLC and Transport Secretary Nihal Somaweera signing the MoU in the presence of Minister Dullas Allahaperuma, Railways General Manager Dr. Lalithasiri Gunaruwan, GM Railways and Central Province Governor Tikiri Kobbekaduwa.

Transport Minister Dullas Allahaperuma said that there is a school of thought that the ministry is trying to baptize the railway into a private commercial enterprise. But it is far from it as President Mahinda Rajapaksa in trying his best to keep the state owned enterprises from going into bankruptcy and with this initiative the ministry is coming into an agreement to bring in private companies to help railway authorities provide a better service to the people.

The minister said that at no stage has the private sector sought any benefits from the state but has come forward as a community service and no one should run away with the idea that private companies who come forward in ventures like this to renovate railway stations in the country have any ulterior motives.

He further said that already 12 railway stations from Maradana to Lunawa have been approved by the Cabinet for renovations agreements with the private sector keeping 100 percent the rights with the Railways Department. He further said that the department needs Rs 1 billion a year to run the railway but the annual income is only Rs 250 million.

The minister further added that a triangular renovation scheme has the approval of the President to serve the people of Kandy. He added that Kandy, Kadugannawa and Gampola together form the triangular scheme and that there would be a two way arrangement of travel between Kandy and Peradeniya. He also added that all illegal buildings and those that hamper the running of the railway would be removed and urged all politicians not to interfere in the removal of illegal buildings and structures.

The MoU was signed by Transport Secretary Nihal Somaweera and Managing Director/CEO for Chevron in Sri Lanka Kishu Gomes. Among those present were the Governor of the Central Province Tikiri Kobbekaduwa, the Chief Minister of the Province Sarath Ekanayake, Member of Parliament Venerable Udawatte Nanda Thera, Mayor of Kandy L.B.Aluvihare, Chief Station Master S.A.Malik,Provincial Councillor Mahinda Abeykoon and other members of the Municipal Council and Provincial Council.

Gomes said this initiative is the first project within the transportation sector undertaken by the company, adding that “we are indeed proud to be supporting the Ministry of transport and the Sri Lanka Railways in this project. It indeed marks a milestone in the history of Chevron.”

“We plan to have the renovations completed in time for the SAARC summit to be held in Kandy. We are also confident that this investment to upgrade the facilities at the station will benefit all train commuters in the island,” he said.

Corporate responsibility has long been a part of Chevron’s values and the way it operates. As a socially responsible organisation, Chevron is committed to contributing to the social and economic development through its numerous projects in the community.

The most recent endeavour of the organisation was its contribution to the General Hospital in Matara for the renovation and reconstruction of the OPD unit and conference room. Additionally the organisation has also supported the differently-abled community in the country through their initiatives with the Deaf Schools and their partnerships with the Sri Lanka Eye Care Foundation in conducting mobile eye clinics in the south of the country.

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