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Magampura Harbour will yield huge economic benefits - SLIA President



Chandana Edirisuriya

Hong Kong, according to history started as a fishing village and then gained a reputation as a salt producing country. Later it became a trading ground and in the last century the country converted to an international financial centre that enjoys the world's sixth highest GDP per capita, supporting 33 percent of the foreign capital flows into China.

The main reason for the country's success was the birth of its harbour.

Architect and President of the Sri Lanka Institute of Architects (SLIA), Chandana Edirisuriya said that the new Ruhunu Magampura Mahinda Rajapaksa International Port too would usher prosperity to Sri Lanka and be one of the main pillars to lead Sri Lanka towards becoming the Wonder of Asia.He said that investments on ports are made for the future and one should not expect immediate results.

"I am confident that the Magampura Harbour would bring long-term economic benefits to Sri Lanka similar to what its port did to Hong Kong," he said.

He said that already benefits of the harbour are trickling to the Southern Province.

Commenting on the beautification of the City of Colombo he said that it is a timely move that should have been done a decade ago.

Several new areas of interest have come up near the WTC, Public Library and even the Police Station at Cinnamon Gardens has got a new look.

Relocating the shanties in Colombo is a priority and this too is now being addressed. In developing countries shanties are removed and given alternate land and prime properties where shanties were given to investors to develop. "This is an ambitious and a good plan and the government must ensure that shanty dwellers are assured a better place to live in," he said.

He said the architects were disappointed in the manner in which some townships were developed several decades ago.

"It's due to this that we are facing congestion and severe traffic jams in areas such as Kadawatha and Maharagama."

With the ending of the conflict a golden opportunity has been opened to the government to restructure the townships in conflict areas.

"We are ready to help the government with our expertise in this area," he said. "Concrete jungles should be avoided at any cost," he said.

He also said that the Indian government is to invest Rs. 2 billion to put up a multi storeyed cultural centre in Jaffna next to the Public Library.

"The Indian embassy has requested a contest be held to get a design for this proposed site," he said.

The government also must ensure high quality roads and the investors are ready to pay a toll and travel on these roads. He also praised the road network in the Southern Province.

He said that after the tsunami several new buildings came up and this has helped add glamour to those affected areas. "The schools were some of the main beneficiaries," he said.He said that tourism is not an industry that can be developed with minimum effort and the government is on the right track to provide infrastructure for the industry. Commenting on the 'Architect 2011' exhibition now in its 29th consecutive year which would be held from February 23-27 at BMICH, he said that this year's theme would be 'Architecture for All, City + Community.'

Archt. Chandana Edirisuriya, President of SLIA said, "After the war the Government has initiated many ways to fast-track development projects in this country and I think the Government focused initially on the infrastructure; roads, airports and ports while they are also very sincere and keen on resettling shanty dwellers.

"We felt that it is important to communicate to the Government what the SLIA has done up to now in the national development effort; during the tsunami and floods, SLIA was involved very actively in rebuilding efforts.

"So we take this as an opportunity to communicate to the Government and public as to the capabilities and capacities of the Sri Lankan architects and what we have to offer."

The President is to be the Chief Guest at the event. The annual sessions are planned to be inaugurated with Minister of Economic Development Basil Rajapaksa, Indian High Commissioner Ashok K. Kantha and President of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), Ruth Reed.

The National Conference is scheduled to be presided over by Minister of Construction, Engineering Services, Housing and Common Amenities Wimal Weerawansa and Governor of Central Bank Ajith Nivard Cabraal as guest of honour.

The National Conference of Architect 2011, will have Brazilian architect and urban planner Jaime Lerner as its keynote speaker.

Prominent internationally acclaimed architects President RIBA, Ruth Reed, President of the Commonwealth Association of Architects (CAA), Mubasshar Hussain, President of the Architects Regional Council Asia (ARCASIA) George Kunihiro and architects representing India, Portugal as well as Vietnam will participate.

The exhibition will have 350 stalls with 260 construction related companies displaying their wares and services and 90 members' panels displaying architectural work.

At the inauguration the SLIA will recognise excellence and achievement in the architectural profession with an awards ceremony. Four spheres will be considered viz. design, use of colour, the young architect of the year and research and publication.

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