With the preparation for the Western Region Megapolis Plan (WRMPP) scheduled to be unveiled to the public in January next year, the Government has now commenced activities to enlighten the public on the concept, and also get their inputs and suggestions for the formulation of the blueprint.
The concept of Megapolis has been a hot topic since the run up to the August 17 parliamentary elections. However, no clear plan has been presented to the public on this regard.
The Government recently convened a meeting with representatives of the public in order to get their input towards planning out in the proposed Megapolis concept.
The meeting was chaired by the Minister of Megapolis and Western Province Development, Patali Champika Ranawaka in Colombo where he explained the reasons and rationale of opting to go for the Megapolis concept.
The Minister pointed out that Sri Lanka has seen an upsurge in urbanization which had resulted in a lot of logistical issues in Colombo and the surrounding areas.
Ranawaka pointed out that 48% of Sri Lanka’s population currently lived in cities. A lot has been said about how Colombo has become congested owing to a huge influx of vehicles and people from other parts of the country. But there is another side, a side which has been ignored. Ranawaka stated that a lot of people had failed to understand the fact that hidden urbanization was also a key factor for the current situation. “Areas such as Galle and Kaduwela are becoming urbanized very quickly.
Everyone is focusing on the problems in Colombo. But no one has realized that this type of hidden urbanization too has resulted in issues,” he told the gathering.
Ranawaka revealed that the ministry planned to introduce a Zoning System in the Western Province such as Residential Zones, Commercial Zones, and Administrative Zones. Accordingly, the system will include Environmentally Sensitive Zones, Residential Zones, Industrial Zones, Population Hub and Transportation Hubs.
Traffic congestion is a huge problem that had plagued Colombo in the recent past. Almost all main roads are jam-packed with vehicles even during weekends. According to the Ministry of Megapolis and Western Province Development, 85% of the road space is being occupied by privately owned vehicles. Ranawaka pointed out that the number of buses had reduced from 32,000 to 29,000 during the past few decades owing to the increase in privately owned vehicles. “Rs. 1 billion is being lost on the roads per day. The average speed of a person in Colombo has decreased to 12 km per hour from the desired speed of 26 km per hour,” Ranawaka said.
One of the key aspects that needs to be looked into is the slum-dwellers. If the concept needs to get off the ground, a comprehensive plan is needed to ensure that these slum-dwellers are relocated and given proper housing facilities within the proposed plan. According to statistics given by the Ministry of Megapolis and Western Province Development, approximately 70,000 families continue to live in slums.
“Relocating and moving them to an appropriate location is a key factor that needs to be looked into when formulating a plan for the Megapolis concept,” he said.