Sri Lanka’s megapolis plan a challenge, needs experts to make it successful


Feb 26, 2016 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s Megapolis development project’s success depends on the establishment of a separate authority to govern the project while social change would also be a key, the president of the Chamber of Construction Industry said.

“The Megapolis Authority with the right expertise is a must if this project is to fly,” Surath Wickramasinghe, President, Chamber of Construction Industry said.

“This is a challenging exercise, especially the financial side of it – it all needs to be generated to make it a success while the proper knowledge and expertise is also needed to get about with the task.”

Wickramasinghe says social change will be a key to making the project a success.

“There is a lot of social change that needs to come through this type of mega development. The people need to embrace the changes that need to be made while the government also needs to ensure the citizens get a better deal than a land scam under the guise of development.”

The megaplolis plan has four fundamental pillars: economic growth and prosperity, social equity and harmony, environmental sustainability and individual happiness.

Its main goal is to create jobs and investments through creating a dynamic regional spatial structure that promotes economic productivity, attracts investments, enhances business opportunities and creates jobs.

The plan will have cities dedicated for aero, marine and technology with 13 other projects which have been earmarked for development.

“So all this is marked, the question is how to implement it,” Wickramasinghe told a forum in Colombo recently.

“I’m not sure if we have the expertise to make it happen.”

However, he said that Sri Lanka is not the first country to do this kind of project and can look at India to learn more.

“We can look at the Indian model; study how they have success of it.”

“We can bring in foreign experts to add to our local expertise like what the Board of Investment is doing.”

The government of India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a vision of developing 100 smart cities as satellite towns of larger cities and by modernizing the existing mid-sized cities.

Data shows that as of 2015, there are 35 megacities globally. Tokyo is on top with the highest population touching 38 million with Jakarta, second and Shanghai is the largest city proper. Chennai is the 35th megacity.

The new mega plan envisages transforming the Western Province by 2030 to a Megapolis with an estimated population of 8.4 million, an increase of 3 million.