In a significant move to kickstart ongoing and stalled development projects since 2017, the Sri Lankan government has re-engaged the services of Surbana Jurong Pvt Ltd, a consulting firm based in Singapore. The firm is tasked with offering comprehensive consultancy solutions spanning the entire spectrum of urbanization, industrialization, and infrastructure domains in Sri Lanka.
As part of this reactivation initiative, Surbana Jurong is currently reassessing three pivotal development plans: the Western Region Megapolis Plan, the Eastern Development Plan focused on Trincomalee, and the Southern Development Plan centred around Hambantota. These plans, initially launched with grand visions, are now undergoing thorough review and adjustment to align with the present government’s vision and policies.
Surbana Jurong aims to expedite the identification, planning, and implementation of urbanization and infrastructure projects in Sri Lanka, to attract high-profile investors. The firm is also committed to nurturing a core local Sri Lankan technical base to support its consultancy endeavours in the country.
A senior official from the Urban Development Authority highlighted that Surbana Jurong’s high-level technical team recently conducted an extensive review in Trincomalee, and field visits have already been made to assess progress in the Colombo and Gampaha districts.
The flagship project, Sri Lanka’s ambitious US$40 billion Western Region Megapolis Planning Project (WRMPP), originally launched to redevelop Colombo City and its suburbs, is currently facing significant hurdles. A progress review report indicates that the project, comprising 150 smaller initiatives, has been stalled due to the COVID-19 crisis, financial constraints, and policy issues.
The WRMPP, covering an expansive 3,600 sq. km area in Colombo, Gampaha, and Kalutara districts, was envisioned to reduce unemployment and enhance living conditions. However, the project’s viability is now in question due to financing challenges, irregularities, and a subpar record of implementation, as revealed in the report.
Despite these challenges, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank have tentatively agreed to provide partial funding, subject to certain conditions, demonstrating continued international interest and support for Sri Lanka’s urban development endeavours.
Sourced: Sunday times story