Way of life -- Chinese company builds new roads, new lives in Sri Lanka


Arial photo taken on June 12, 2021 shows the road in a village in Sri Lanka's Northern Province. (China State Construction Engineering Corporation/Handout via Xinhua)

New roads built by a Chinese company have forever changed people's lives in the Sri Lankan village which used to be connected by potholed roads.

There are some very noisy roadworks outside Sathishkumara Nargeshwaran's home. Noisy, smelly trucks are tearing up what little road surface there is. In many places this kind of disruption would bring complaints and dismay, but in this village in northern Sri Lanka's Northern Province, people are delighted.

"Rebuilding this road will help the village a lot. If more of our roads get the same treatment, we'll all be much better off," said Nargeshwaran.

For historical reasons, northern Sri Lanka is less developed than the rest of the country. Most of the villages in the area are connected by potholed roads. When it rains, no one goes anywhere.

In March 2020, China State Construction Engineering Corporation began to widen and pave the roads with asphalt in the Vavuniya area in the region.


Photo taken on March 11, 2022 shows people riding a motorcycle on upgraded road  in Vavuniya in Sri Lanka's Northern Province. (Xinhua/Tang Lu)

Liu Cunfeng, project manager of China State Construction Engineering Corporation, said Vavuniya is an area with a scattered population of around 200,000 and the total construction length of the roads here is about 100 km scattered in different villages.

Previously, the winding country roads of Vavuniya were narrow, and some were the only way to towns. Therefore, how to ensure the normal passage of villagers and the construction progress at the same time has become an issue that the Chinese enterprise needs to consider in a balanced manner.

"We have ensured that the project has been supported by the surrounding villagers since the start of construction," said Liu.

When the construction staff apologized for the inconvenience caused by the construction work to his home, Nargeshwaran said: "The current inconvenience is temporary, and we have been looking forward to the improvement of road conditions."

Kumar, who owns a grocery store on the side of the road, has already benefited from the rural road transformation. "After the road in front of my house was reconstructed, more customers came to my store than before."


Students walk on upgraded road in Vavuniya in Sri Lanka's Northern Province on March 11, 2022. (Xinhua/Tang Lu)

At the end of school hours, the newly paved road next to Maraharampalai Vinayakar Viththiyalayam School is bustling with parents coming to pick up their children.

Watching the students happily running and cycling outside the school, Principal Manchuria Devi Theruvarural Nesan said the road has brought great convenience for the 250 students and their parents.

The rural road reconstruction project not only improved local residents' travel conditions, but also created job opportunities. In order to promote women's employment, the project has specially set up 30 percent of the positions for recruiting local females.

Thirty-nine-year-old Sandaramogan Shashikala, a female road cleaning worker, found it very difficult to raise her children before as her family had no financial resources. But after she started working on the Chinese company project, her family's economic situation has improved with a new bathroom built and electricity connected.

Another female worker Subramaniyam Parameshwari said it is generally difficult for women to find jobs in this area, but now she can earn a considerable amount of income to support herself and her family.

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