By Zahara Zuhair
To achieve the common goal of ‘Building a new Sri Lanka’, the Chamber of Construction Industry (CCI) launched Build Sri Lanka 2016 - Housing and Construction Expo, which is expected to be held from May 13 to 15, 2016, at the BMICH.
The expo expects to provide a platform to the construction industry to display their products, services, new technologies and capabilities to the potential customers and public and also highlight the recent development projects undertaken in the country with an insight into the plans of building a new Sri Lanka.
Addressing the gathering, CCI President Dr. Surath Wickramasinghe said that the CCI was formed in 2001 when the construction industry was going below the zero growth and at present, the industry is progressing steadily with the projects they have in hand.
“But unfortunately, now we cannot see a visible impact from the private sector towards the fast-tracking of the construction industry; it is may be because of the government is new,” he said. However, he noted that the Board of Investment (BOI) has reintroduced the incentives offered to entrepreneurs and the industry in the past and it will be a good way to kick off the development drive.
Revealing his stance on the megapolis project, which was initially submitted in 2004, and later abounded due to the change of the government and now expected to undergo, he stated that the mega city concept is futuristic and is beneficial for the economic growth of
“In my view, it should be done in phases beginning with the smart city concept in selected parts in the city of Colombo,” he said.
He noted that the total area of the Western Province is 3684 square kilometres, which is five times larger than Singapore, while the population of both the Western Province and Singapore are about the same, which is
“Therefore, sometimes I wonder with the concept for the megapolis development, the total of the Western Province, which includes Gampaha, Colombo and Kalutara, can be achieved without the participation of all of our chambers, including ours,” he said.
Internationally mega cities are classified as where the population exceeds 10 million and he said that in Sri Lanka’s context it has not yet reached even one million to be classified as a mega city.
Dr. Wickramasinghe said that the proposed mega city project in the Western Province can be further fast-tracked and accelerated through developing other roads in Sri Lanka such as Trincomalee, Jaffna, Kandy and Galle and may be a few others later. He added that when considering megapolis it has to be a mix of both urban and rural.
However, he said that there are smaller mega cities with the population of less than 10 million and out of these the best economic growth are the cities with the population of between1.5-5 million.
He also noted that the world trends indicates that by the year 2025 there will be 27 mega cities out of which 21 will be in developing countries.
Speaking to Mirror Business, CCI Sri Lanka General Manager Kapila Liyanaarachchi said the expo, which is held for the 12th time, is organised for the benefit of the stakeholders and those who are involved in domestic housing construction, who can get knowledge on materials and modern technological equipment through this.
Explaining about the concept of building a new Sri Lanka, he said that with the present government’s vision, with the proposed megapolis project where Colombo, Gampaha and Avissawella would become one city, all the roads would be inter-connected.
He said that cities such as Kandy and Galle would become satellite cities, which would be connected with highways under this project. “Even if you look at Kaduwela to Fort they will have a monorail system,” he said.
Also he said that the Port City Project is a requirement and should be continued since the CCI believes the city should be expanded. “The chamber believes the city should be expanded. It’s not only the land side, but needs to acquire the sea side also,” he stated. Moreover, the fifth edition of the construction industry trade and business directory for the years 2016/2017 was also launched at the event.