Transport, Highways and Mass Media Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardhana emphasized the need for a change in attitude to build trust in investors about the country. He made this statement while inaugurating a new three-storey restroom for train drivers in Maradana Railway Station.
The Minister also highlighted that when they took over the Ministry, the Railways Department was considered unrecoverable and thought to be privatized. However, he was able to create a process to solve these problems with agreements with all trade unions.
Due to the current economic challenges, the financial status of major construction companies has collapsed. The country has spent all the necessary expenses for materials, infrastructure, equipment, machinery, etc. by relying on domestic and foreign loans. However, the country is currently unable to obtain any foreign loans, the Minister said.
Moreover, the reform of the North railway line, which was scheduled to start under the 2019 Indian Credit Scheme, was stalled for about three years. Therefore, the alternative is to create opportunities for investment by the private sector by managing the existing assets to generate revenue, Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardhana said.
To this end, a proposal called the Station Plaza concept has been submitted to the Budget to provide opportunities for useful projects such as tourist hotels, supermarkets, railway towns, etc., through private investment, while keeping the ownership of the railway stations under the Railways Department, the Minister said.
Similar proposals have been made for Colombo Fort and Maradana Railway Stations before, but no investor has come forward for them, he said.
The Minister urged everyone to contribute to making the Railway Department an effective and efficient organization for future generations. Railways General Manager H.M.K.W. Bandara, Deputy General Managers, members of trade unions, and several others participated in the event.
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