Hambantota development programme: Key projects reach halfway point
a year ago
By Uwin Lugoda Two development projects in the town of Walasmulla in the Hambantota District have reached the halfway point, with its first phase costing Rs. 62 million, expected to reach completion in the first half of November. The two development projects consist of a facelift to the rural town, under the Urban Development Authority’s (UDA) umbrella project the “100 Towns” initiative, which aims to develop rural towns across Sri Lanka. Commencing development operations on 4 July, the larger portion of the project is currently nearing completion. According to the UDA, the two projects entail building two essential facilities for the use of the townspeople, including a new commercial building and a public market. “These facilities will benefit the people of Walasmulla and those in the communities surrounding the town. The first phase of the project will be to build the Walasmulla commercial building, which will consist of three floors; namely a basement floor, ground floor, and a first floor,” said UDA Director General Prasad Ranaweera, speaking to The Sunday Morning. He stated that according to the design of the commercial building, its basement floor will host 13 shops, while the ground floor will host an additional 25 shops. Its highest floor will consist of an auditorium and a special area set aside for commercial purposes. Moreover, Ranaweera stated that this commercial building will take into consideration other needs of the public and will also be equipped with all the facilities needed by them, including sanitary facilities. The first phase of development in Walasmulla was scheduled to be completed 150 days after the project’s launch and is estimated to reach completion by 9 November. Ranaweera stated that this was the largest of the two projects, costing an estimated Rs. 62 million. This phase is being jointly funded by the UDA and the Weeraketiya Pradeshiya Sabha. As for the second half of the development project, he stated that the development work on the “Walasmulla Mahajana Pola” was taking place in parallel to the development of the town’s commercial building. He explained that the public market originally commenced construction in 2013, but had its development stopped halfway due to the subsequent change in government. “By the end of 2014, 60% of the work was completed, but in the past five years, only 5% of the construction was completed. This 35,910 sq. ft. land was given by the Weeraketiya Pradeshiya Sabha to the UDA for this public market, and it is estimated that more than 3,000 customers from towns and villages including Walasmulla and Pallekanda visit it.” Ranaweera stated that once completed, this market will be fully equipped to handle a large crowd while still retaining the features of a traditional market. He explained that since being organised by the UDA, the Walasmulla fair could now comfortably accommodate up to 1,060 vendors. The estimated cost for the construction of the public market is Rs. 35 million, with the money being given by both the General Treasury and the UDA. Altogether, the cost of both projects adds up to Rs. 97 million. The development of both these projects is currently being supervised by the UDA under the instructions of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa in his capacity as the Minister of Urban Development and Housing. The project is a part of the much larger “100 Towns” project, which aims to beautify and modernise 100 rural towns in all 25 districts. The initiative was inspired by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s vision for greener, smarter, and more resilient cities and settlements, as mentioned in his “Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour” policy framework. It also covers sustainable land usage within existing cities and identifying appropriate lands for development activities to minimise the environmental impacts. So far, the UDA has identified 130 projects under the initiative and is set to improve the infrastructure of towns in every electorate.