The Minister of Megapolis and Western Development Patali Champika Ranawaka made an important point at an event which was held recently to launch the Development Control Regulations of the Colombo Port City. He said that urbanisation was inevitable, not because it was necessary to transplant people from rural areas into big cities but because, the suburban and rural areas were getting built up fast, and merging into the urban infrastructure.
He added that according to reports 70% of the world’s population is expected to live in urban areas by 2050; “therefore, we have no option but to grasp this way of life, and find out what opportunities it has in store for us.”
Quoting an old adage the Minister said that ‘Kolambata Kiri Gamatakekiri’ was a common saying amongst the masses, implying that Colombo prospers whilst the rural areas remain lacking in benefits. This he said was probably due to the proven fact that across the globe, the GDP of urban areas was higher than that of rural areas. The Minister added that as written in the book ‘Winning Global Markets’ by Marketing Gurus Philip and Milton Kotler “the growth of nations is intimately tied with the growth of their major cities. Top cities have grown faster in Gross Domestic Product than the rate of their country’s GDP growth. Major cities are the source of a nation’s wealth, not the other way around. In the markets of a nation’s major cities, investment, trade and consumption take place.”
He said that this was something that needed to be understood in this modern world. “It is not that we or our Government’s policy, are trying to in any way, discount the rural sector. There are separate plans that we have to ensure that it grows parallelly. But there is greater opportunity in the synergies of a city, especially because people from different walks of life come together – and they fuel growth and consumption. The port city will bring a new ingredient to the table to mix and match with our local flavours. As Sri Lankans, we all want to keep our identity. We are proud of who we are and where we originate from. But that does not mean we cannot stretch across the waters to find new partners and bring new strategies into play.”
Speaking of the Government’s Megapolis Vision which is to ‘accomplish economic prosperity and enhance the quality of life of the citizens of Sri Lanka through creating well designed, green, clean and smart, urban settlements in strategic locations of the country with the engagement of best design, engineering and town planning skills, state-of-art technology and world’s best practices’; the Minister said that this was exactly what was happening today with Port City. “…an urban settlement is being built in a strategic location, with the engagement of good town planning, the best designs, state of the art technologies and the best work practices. The DCR is the mechanism through which this will operate.”
He said the DCR went well with the mission of the Megapolis and will benchmark standards not only for the Megapolis but the rest of the country. He added that as for the rural sector of Sri Lanka, he himself was not a stranger to the village where the Jack tree, the coconut tree and produce from paddy lands sustained the people. However, he believes that this way of sustaining was fast becoming a thing of the past, with rural areas becoming more built up with people wanting new spaces to build homes and find work.
“We need to find new ways of sustaining in urban life and that is by looking at newer models to support an ever growing population. Cities have become important, economic entities in the world today, and when they are well designed and connected with the provincial infrastructure of a nation, we are bound to find win-win situations. Cities act as a magnet in channeling investment; that is what we expect from the Port City in the future. It will be a city within a city, sitting on the edge of the Indian Ocean with world class standards that will attract the right investor and long term partners who will benefit our nation.”
The Minister was addressing a gathering of over 400 people made up of the Project Company’s future utility partners, representatives from allied Government agencies and prospective investors who had gathered for the unveiling of the DCR, which was themed ‘The Roadmap to Prosperity’.
The Minister said that the Port City project had reached an important milestone; one which has taken over 12 years to bring to fruition. He added that the Development Control Regulations were important, because it was the signal for the project company’s marketing teams to actively go and present this plot of reclaimed land as viable real estate.