Mega construction projects slipping away; Manpower shortage a drawback

29 October 2012 06:30 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

A A A



By Surath Wickramasinghe

We are overwhelmed by the rapid development taking place in the City of Colombo and in other parts of Sri Lanka. The huge Krrish Square Development is one of them. We are happy that projects of this nature and magnitude are to happen in Sri Lanka. No doubt, more projects of a similar nature will pave the way for a world class infrastructure to attract big players in the international corporate sector to operate their global businesses from Sri Lanka.

The Colombo beautification program including the Race Course Regeneration Programme are also very impressive. Several other Mega Hotel Projects in Colombo are under construction like the Shangrilla, Hyatt and the Sheriton and some in the pipeline like the Welcome Hotels, the 7 Star Hotel Complex  and in addition the other Hotel Complexes under construction in different parts of Sri Lanka is a huge boost to the Construction Industry as well as to the Tourism Industry.
Furthermore, the many apartment complexes under construction and once again some more in the pipeline, like the new Harbour City will further make Colombo an important nodal point in South Asia.



Is it adequate?
The question I would like to raise is whether our Infrastructure is adequate? We are aware of the ADB Funded Colombo Sewerage Renewal Project and regarding the World Bank funded Metro Colombo Infrastructure Project, which will include the rapid Transit Railway Network the work is to commence shortly. In addition, we require to provide, fibre optic cables, smart and green technology for the buildings, entertainment, leisure and recreation activities including one or two Golf Courses to complement the anticipated Mega Development and to attract foreign investment.

The other question I would like to raise is that Sri Lanka’s skilled and Construction Professionals will not be adequate to meet the challenges of the future. We may even have to import them since the Industry is already short of personnel in these specialities.

Those of you who are from the Construction Industry will agree with me, that there is a major shortage of Construction Professionals such as, Service Engineers, Quantity Surveyors, Project Managers and Construction Managers and several other Technically skilled personnel, such as, Electricians, Plumbers, Masons, Fabricators and from other trades.  


Industry’s attractiveness
A problem the construction industry is facing is to recruit students at the Under Graduate Level. For some reason, despite the Construction Industry employment being so much better than some of the other professions, there is reluctance on the part of the young to take to the Construction Industry. This we must try and overcome with better and more publicity.   

The way forward is to request the Ministry of Higher Education to direct at least a 1000 of the 225,000 A/L students who are unlucky to enter Universities to be trained as Construction Industry Professionals. We are aware that the Government has Organizations already functioning training these disciplines. However, to boost the numbers, our Chamber along with the Colombo School of Construction Technology where Professor Chitra Weddikkara is the Dean, will be able to facilitate the training of this much needed expertise to strengthen the Construction Industry personnel. We trust the Ministers and the Member of Parliament will look in to this important aspect and request the relevant authorities to commence a dialogue with our Chamber.   



IDFSL
An important Proposal our Chamber made to the Ministry of Finance, at the recent Budget Proposal meeting with the President, is to set up an Infrastructure Development Fund (IDFSL). In our view, this is a pre-requisite, if we are to ‘fast track’ Infrastructure Development in Sri Lanka.

We are of course aware that the President and Minister for Economic Development have done an enormous amount of work to strengthen the National Road Network, the Housing and Infrastructure Development in the North and East, Ports and Airports and Irrigation Projects. If one travels to any part of Sri Lanka, the transformation from what it was four years ago to what it is now is very apparent.



Willingness to invest
Coming back to this IDFSL, most of the Mega Infrastructure Projects in the country over past few years have been undertaken by Foreign Consultants and Contractors with funds from their own countries. The Projects have gone to them because they have come with money. Today, the situation is different; the Private Sector both Foreign and Local would like to invest in an Infrastructure Development Fund in Sri Lanka. In India, we all know, a similar fund has helped to speed up the transformation of their Major Cities. Of course, other countries like Japan, Korea, Malaysia and Singapore are other success stories with their own development Fund. At the Budget Proposal Meeting we requested that the establishment of the IDFSL be included in the Budget 2013.

If so, we are confident that within a short period, with innovative structuring to attract substantial Investment from the Construction Industry, Banks, General Public, Local and Overseas Institutional and other Investors, it will have the potential to reach US$ 200 Million and more thereafter. Consequently, it will be a catalyst to ‘FAST TRACK’ infrastructure projects in all parts of Sri Lanka. The benefits would be enormous enabling the upgrading of Skills with new Technology to be competitive with the best in Asia. Furthermore, the Socio-Economic benefits would be many, since several thousand’s will have gainful employment opportunities in different disciplines allied to the Construction Industry. We would request the Ministers and the Hon Member of Parliament to support this proposal at the Budget.



Urban Regeneration Projects
Our Chamber has been consistently highlighting the urgency to commence on a few large scale Urban Regeneration Projects in prime locations in the city of Colombo, such as Maradana, Kollupitiya, Slave Island and at other Urban Centres as against standalone projects. Our concept is a Public-Private Partnership Model where the Government will act as a facilitator. The relocation of underserved families from the identified prime land and offering the liberated land to the Private Sector / Investors / Developers. The investor on relocating the underserved families at their cost will be given the liberated prime land as collateral for their investment to undertake Urban Regeneration Projects. This Public-Private-Partnership model which is being supported by the Ministry of Defence, we think is a way forward and a viable proposition.
However, to implement this model the government should facilitate by providing Rupees 50 - 100 Million in the Budget for 2013 as Seed Capital to prepare Bid Proposals to cover the cost of outsourcing for the preparation of the valuation, Templates of the Concession Agreements & also the Shareholders Agreements. It is our view, that if this information is available to the Private Sector Developers, it is possible to ‘kick start’ two or three Projects, similar to Slave Island. The benefits would be many as the government funding will not be necessary to relocate the underserved settlements, while at the same time massive investment on the liberated Prime Land will pave the way to create a comprehensively planned environment, where both the Public and the Private Sector new Commercial and Business activities could be integrated to accelerate the economic development in the City.
(Surath Wickramasinghe is the President of Chamber of Construction Industry, Sri Lanka)



Alternative Energy Project
We would also request the government to establish an ‘Alternative Energy Project’ with the collaboration of countries which have become Energy Independent. For example, Denmark is the first country to be Energy Independent with wide use of Solar and Wind Power. Furthermore, we can collaborate with China to produce Solar Panels and Invertors in Sri Lanka at a reduced cost to enable the public to use Solar Power as an alternative source of energy.
Finally, as we are now on a boom footing with Tourism, Housing, Commercial, Mega Social and Physical Infrastructure Projects happening in the major Cities in Sri Lanka. We at CCI with our Multi-disciplinary resources available will be pleased to contribute to this National effort through our Membership to develop the remote areas in the Provinces to be competitive with other parts of the Country.
See Kapruka's top selling online shopping categories such as Toys, Grocery, Flowers, Birthday Cakes, Fruits, Chocolates, Clothing and Electronics. Also see Kapruka's unique online services such as Money Remittence,News, Courier/Delivery, Food Delivery and over 700 top brands. Also get products from Amazon & Ebay via Kapruka Gloabal Shop into Sri Lanka.

 

  Comments - 0

See Kapruka's top selling online shopping categories such as Toys, Grocery, Flowers, Birthday Cakes, Fruits, Chocolates, Clothing and Electronics. Also see Kapruka's unique online services such as Money Remittence,News, Courier/Delivery, Food Delivery and over 700 top brands. Also get products from Amazon & Ebay via Kapruka Gloabal Shop into Sri Lanka.

 

 

Add comment

Comments will be edited (grammar, spelling and slang) and authorized at the discretion of Daily Mirror online. The website also has the right not to publish selected comments.

Reply To:

Name - Reply Comment




Pad politics is back

In November 2019, in the run up to the Presidential election, Sri Lanka debat

ANYTHING FOR MONEY

Some unregulated online lenders are remotely taking control of phones of thos

Frontline cops charge negligence by high-ups worsened police cluster

The police have done an invaluable service in the frontlines to combat the CO

US Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris’s Key Sri Lankan Tamil Aide

An overwhelming feeling of relief has descended upon the world-not merely th

See Kapruka's top selling online shopping categories such as Toys, Grocery, Flowers, Birthday Cakes, Fruits, Chocolates, Clothing and Electronics. Also see Kapruka's unique online services such as Money Remittence,News, Courier/Delivery, Food Delivery and over 700 top brands. Also get products from Amazon & Ebay via Kapruka Gloabal Shop into Sri Lanka.