Oct 18, Colombo: Sri Lanka has sought Singapore's assistance to plan the development of Western Province into a megapolis expanding outwards from Colombo.
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who just ended a four-day visit to Singapore, said he discussed with the Singapore officials possible areas of cooperation for the project.
In an interview with The Strait Times Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said the idea was originally conceived over a decade ago in 2004 when he was the Prime Minister but it was not followed up by former president Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Wickramasinghe said that the Colombo modernization plan carried out by the Rajapaksa administration over the last few years was a piecemeal implementation of sections of the plan.
He said Singapore's CESMA International, a part of Singapore state-run Housing Development Corporation, which has now been re-branded as Surbana, did the planning in 2004.
"Now, we have got them to revise the plan. It will be available by the end of the year," the PM said.
Wickremesinghe's administration from 2001 to 2004 conceived the megapolis plan to create a large metropolitan region expanding outwards from Sri Lanka's capital Colombo to Avissawella in the north and Panadura to the south.
"The Megapolis idea stems from having larger cities as a catalyst for economic growth. The benefit is that technology then also starts going to different other regions such as the North-Western Province," he said adding that the government will also look to develop other cities as well.
"Similarly, we are looking at reconstruction of the North and East, mainly for agriculture. Once that is done, investments will flow. We have had (Singapore's) Prima for years. Now, we have the Shangri-La Hotel," he said.
"We also want them (Surbana-Jurong Pte Ltd) to do the Master Plan for Trincomalee. Already, the Japanese and Indians are interested in that region. Aside from Trincomalee harbour, there is also potential for power generation and manufacturing. The Japanese and Indians are present in thermal power generation in Trincomalee. There are also immense possibilities to develop tourism," Wickremesinghe explained.