Singapore to revise master plan for Sri Lanka's Megapolis

Singapore will handle the revised master plan for Sri Lanka's Megapolis - an ambitious plan to develop the country's Western Province, which includes Colombo, into a massive urban agglomeration - Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said.

"Singapore's Cesma did the planning in 2004, but it was not followed up by President Rajapaksa," Mr Wickremesinghe said, referring to the former HDB design subsidiary which later morphed into Surbana Jurong. "Now, we have got them to revise the plan. It will be available by the end of the year. We also want them to do the master plan for Trincomalee."

Sri Lanka's Western Province accounts for nearly half of the nation's economy, with the other eight provinces accounting for the rest. Colombo's vision is to build a regional business and financial hub, complete with high-rise developments, recreational areas and shopping districts.

It also wants to develop the region around Trincomalee, a port city and headquarters of the Eastern Province that draws its attractiveness from the circular and deep natural harbour.

Indian and Japanese companies have shown keen interest in investing around the strategic port city, where both are putting up thermal power units. Colombo, it would appear, would like Singapore to do for the Western Province and Trincomalee what it is doing in India's southern state of Andhra Pradesh, where it is helping in the design and construction of a new capital. Trincomalee also has immense tourism potential.

Mr S. Chandra Das, Singapore's Non-Resident High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, said: "The Sri Lankans are in contact with Surbana Jurong to work with their relevant authority to do the planning for Western Province and Trincomalee.

"We leave it to the individual companies here to decide what role they have to take."

Mr Wickremesinghe said Colombo would also seek to open Free Trade Agreement talks with Singapore after upgrading an FTA with India into a comprehensive trade and technological partnership, as well as concluding an FTA with China.

"The sequencing of the FTAs is because we have limited staff to negotiate," he said.

Ravi Velloor

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 19, 2015, with the headline 'Singapore to revise master plan for Sri Lanka's Megapolis'. Print Edition | Subscribe