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The Government has decided to go ahead with the initial plan to extend the Southern Highway to Hambantota.Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, speaking in Kandy today, said that the Government is having talks with China to fund the project to extend the Southern Highway to Hambantota. Once completed, the Outer Circular Highway will interconnect the major highways in Sri Lanka.The Prime Minister said that the Government has also decided to commence work on the Colombo – Kandy highway and as the first stage the highway will be constructed between Colombo and Kurunegala with funding from Japan and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).He also said that the Government has identified several other road networks to be developed. However the new Government which took office in January this year had decided to review some of the Chinese funded projects following allegations of corruption and lack of transparency when the deals were originally signed. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe however said that the highway projects will continue, with proper procedures being followed.He said that talks will be held with a Chinese company to go ahead with the third stage of the Outer Circular Highway (OCH 3). The Prime Minister also rejected allegations that the new Government is taking political revenge on the former Government by launching investigations into some of the projects. The Southern Highway which connects Colombo to Galle and Colombo to Matara was to be extended to Hambantota as part of the project plan of the former Government. He said that the investigations are purely to expose corruption in some of the deals and not take political revenge. (Colombo Gazette)

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