The construction work on the expansion of southern expressway linking Matara and Hambantota, country’s first E-class highway (E01), began in 2015. It aimed to promote the efficient transport system by linking Colombo with other parts of country. The 96 km expressway consists of 4 sections with each section financed by the Exim bank with different loans e.g. preferential buyer’s creditor and government concessional loans. All sections commenced in 2016 and first three were completed in 2019 and 2020 respectively. Section 3, due to be completed in 2018, was delayed due to soil issues and hitches in land acquisition. Around 80% of section four is completed till December 2018.
The Road Development Authority (RDA) noted the southern expressway is prone to landslide risk whereas the National Building Research Organization’s (NBRO’s) Risk Management Division claimed to have addressed the issue.
Besides that, the project has caused displacement and involuntary resettlement. Its socio-economic, cultural, and environmental implications included air pollution, unemployment marginalization (physical and psychological), food insecurity, social displacement, loss of property and services, depreciated healthcare system, urban flooding, and lack of adequate housing and land. The locals further lamented the project will damage the eco system causing environmental hazards.