Sri Lanka’s long-term objective envisages exploiting its strategic location in the Indian Ocean to ensure its economic development in a region which will be pivotal for global economic growth, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said today.
Speaking at the 6th World Cities Summit, CleanEnviro Summit and International Water Week in Singapore, the Prime Minister said that the key thrust of the Sri Lanka initiative will be the Western Megapolis and the two connecting corridor which will cover 9 million people.
He said the mega infrastructure includes the development of the ports of Colombo and Hambantota in the South.
The Prime Minister said that the new landfill adjacent to the Colombo Port is planned as an offshore Financial Centre. He said four Special Economic Zones will provide the infrastructure for industry.
“We envision the Western Province of Sri Lanka, which includes Colombo and the capital Sri Jayewardenepura as a Megapolis of interconnected metropolitan areas. This would include a light railway system with elevated railways, elevated highways, a multi-modal transport hub, the development of old waterways, and 3 LNG plants. It will encompass a Logistics City, a Forest City, and an Aero City. We will aim for maximum livability by implementing sewerage and solid waste projects, an Eco Zone, and Riverine Buffer Zone Development. Plans for the megapolis were prepared by Surbana Jurong and the Ministry of Megapolis are in the initial stages of implementation,” he said.
He said Sri Lanka will also develop two Urban Corridors; one along the 134 km-long Central Expressway leading to Kandy, and the other along the 241 km-long Southern Highway via Galle, leading to the newly built Hambantota port and Mattala airport.
The Southern corridor will include 3 large eco friendly Tourist Resorts of over 500 acres each in addition to a fully restored Galle Heritage Fort. Surbana Jurong is also planning the development of Hambantota.
He also said that Sri Lanka needs to politically and financially revitalize and empower local governments. The biggest issue in the management of mega-cities is that they involve many levels of Government and Local Authorities.
“Political power in many of our countries were distributed between the Central Government, the Provinces and the Local Authorities in the last century when concepts such as mega-cities and global connectivity had not even been thought of. Given that we will now have to exercise these powers for completely different objectives in a completely different environment, it is inevitable then that we must reconsider the structure of our local governments,” he said.