Hambantota – another
Colombo in the making
Hambantota, once impoverished like Monaragala, must be the most fortunate town in Sri Lanka – it has a national leader who is making giant strides by developing the area and a budding politician waiting in the wings for bigger things to come.
By the time Mahinda Rajapaksa retires from politics in 2017 after serving two terms as president – that is if he serves the full current term and goes on to win the next one – he would return to a virtual Colombo-like city, buzzing with corporate and economic activity and night life.
Even in retirement or out of politics, Rajapaksa need not fear over the future of this development pace with the UNP’s Sajith Premadasa, based in Hambantota, waiting for national leadership and also keen on putting his own stamp on development.
So it was with some buoyancy and hope that officials of the Hambantota District Chamber of Commerce (HDCC) came to Colombo to brief the media last week, on investment and business prospects in their town. With construction starting this month for a new port and other development like the international airport, international convention centre bigger than the BMICH, an international sports stadium and an international cricket statium, international racing track, new hotels and new highways coming up, chamber officials say people are excited over the proposed development. Another project in the pipeline is to create a season to attract visitors like the Nuwara Eliya season.
“A team of HDCC officials visited Nuwara Eliya to study the season and the activities around it,” noted Azmi Thassim, HDCC Director-General. Activities are expected to circulate around a racing season, the Yala National Park and bird sanctuary in addition to some of the most beautiful beaches in Sri Lanka.
“We believe there is a lot of scope for development and business in Hambantota,” said Thassim, adding that the new port can attract some of the 36,000 ships that skip India and Sri Lanka but pass through Hambantota. Only 5,000 of these ships stop over at Colombo.