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Megapolis to roll out major project before year-end

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Megapolis to roll out major project before year-end

Post by sashimaal on Mon Sep 19, 2016 4:38 pm

By Charumini de Silva

Priority investment projects under the Western Region Megapolis Development worth over hundreds of millions of dollars will be rolled out before the end of this year, a top official said, with a $ 125 million inland water transport project and key land parcels leading the way.

The multi-model hub development around Colombo Fort, Beira Lake and Kirimandala Mawatha has been marked as “very high priority” with prime sites to be put out on tender by the Urban Development Authority (UDA). “We are now in a process of starting to release these three key clusters of land before the end of this year, where we would see these priority sites getting tendered out,” Western Region Megapolis Planning Project Head of Investments Nayana N. Mawilmada told the Daily FT.

According to a recent presentation by Mawilmada, the UDA has identified investments of some of the priority projects and commenced detailed feasibility studies while a few have already found funding.

The $ 15 million Beira Waterfront Development (funded, under construction) and $ 125 million Inland Water Transport (tender document under preparation) are among the key projects with the latter receiving Cabinet approval two weeks ago.

A $ 1.2 billion Light Metro – Phase I funded by Japan and undergoing the detailed feasibility plus a $ 1 billion Railway Electrification project also already funded would be among the top ventures. Studies are also pending on a hefty $ 431 million Bus Modernisation project.

Despite time constraints, Mawilmada insisted the authority would work to unlock public assets systematically in a transparent manner.

“Given the fairly large site around Beira Lake, we will over time start releasing a lot more assets as that’s going to be a key area of activity. The land next to Altair will be a mixed used development, which has been on the cards for a while,” he added. That plot of land is also expected to be tendered soon.

However, he said the evaluation would be based on the proposal as well as the price offered on the site as the Megapolis Authority intends to leave bargaining space for potential developers to submit proposals.

In addition, he asserted that they would hopefully see the water transport tender go out this year. “We have had discussions and interest expressed by multiple parties, which is why we are trying to accelerate and put that out very soon. Once the evaluations process is completed, by mid next year we should be able to commence the project.”

It was pointed out that the Urban Development Authority (UDA) is in the process of working out on the best possible commercially viable long-term projects, while aligning them with the transit links and transportation systems.

“Within Colombo District, there are huge clusters of land under the Government’s portfolio. We are actually doing the master planning as we speak. I would say that would take another year at least,” he explained.

Mawilmada said the Gafoor Building in Colombo Fort would be offered to a private party for structural stabilisation in the next few weeks where it could be transformed, much like Dutch Hospital or Independence Arcade.

Reshaping Colombo, preserving and celebrating the urban heritage, unlocking value of public assets, and mainstreaming mass transit is fraught with challenges he said: “We must resist the temptation to be reactive to short-term needs and keep ourselves focused on long-term sustainability. Sri Lanka offers a plethora of opportunities, consolidating Colombo’s position as the only true global city in the Indian Ocean.”

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