The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has signed an agreement to provide a loan of up to JPY30.08bn ($270m) for the construction of a light-rail transit (LRT) system in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

The Japanese agency signed the agreement with the Sri Lankan Government to provide the official development assistance (ODA) loan for the proposed project that aims to mitigate traffic congestion in Colombo.

Special Terms for Economic Partnership (STEP) will also be applicable on the loan. STEP refers to special assistance terms for promoting Japanese aid through a transfer of Japanese technology and capabilities to developing countries.

For the Colombo LRT system, Japan will deliver technical support, rolling stock and electromechanical equipment.

“The overall project comprises the construction of a rail system with more than 15.7km of track and 16 stations.”

The overall project comprises the construction of a rail system with more than 15.7km of track and 16 stations. According to local media sources, the entire rail system will be based on elevated viaducts to minimise land acquisition.

Once completed, the project is expected to improve transportation capacity and reduce air pollution in the city.

Trains are expected to operate on the line every two to three minutes during peak hours.

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The Colombo LRT system is expected to be completed in April 2026.

In July last year, letters of invitation for consulting services including detailed design work were issued, while the tender process for project construction is expected to begin in March 2020.

The JICA loan for the project carries a repayment period of 40 years, with a grace period of 12 years.

In January, JICA agreed to provide a $1.53bn loan for a rail project in Metropolitan Manila, the Philippines.