For Indunil Lakshan, 23, the Extension of Southern Expressway Project in Sri Lanka has come as a blessing. Because of the project, He has become a confident man helping his family to move out of poverty to have a better life. The story dates back to 2017, when he joined China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC)as a temporary driver. The company has built two sections of the said project, of which the total length is more than 96 km.
When he got this permanent job, he started getting steady income and saved some money. Later he took out a loan to buy a mini truck for his dad.“While I was working at the expressway(project), I bought a vehicle. My dad uses the truck to transport goods to the city. Now we have a good income.”
Lakshan’s dad, GH Gunaratne used to run a grocery shop before his son bought a mini truck for him. Now my Gunaratne transports vegetables from the village to Colombo city. “The expressway was completed in February 2020.” Before the expressway was completed Gunaratne transported goods through the old road which is quite time-consuming. “Those days when the road was not good we took trip once a week and our income was less than 100 USD per week. But it’s different now because of the expressway.We travel more frequently now and we can earn almost two times compared to early days.” explains Gunaratne.
With a steady income Guna Ratne has managed to repay the loan and nowheis making new plans. He told CGTN, “I am hoping to buy another vehicle through a lease and to develop my own business. I have completed the house (construction) work，spent some money on children’s education and made some investments.”
Sri Lanka has been an integral part of China's Belt and Road Initiative. CSCEC has undertaken many projects including the Extension of Southern Expressway project which is a part of the BRI and employed more than 2000 locals for these works. Cheng Huaqiang Deputy General Manager of CSCEC Sri Lanka, explains, “Belt and Road Initiative aims at building community of common destiny for mankind , insists on the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefit providing China’s contribution to promoting the global governance system reforms”.
Lives has been changed for people who often travel between the Southern province and the capital city. The Southern province has many tourist attractions. For travel agents and tour operators the expressway has been a bonus. Gayan Gamage takes tourists from Colombo to the beaches in the Southern province. “Since the expressway was completed the trips to South have increased and so has the income. The expressway has helped us improve our standard of living. Now we are all waiting for the end of pandemic so more and more tourists come to our country, ” Gamage says hopefully.