Cabinet recently approved the construction of an IT park in Hambantota. I hope it works, but I still think this is a bad idea. IT parks work where they can be close to an educated and engaged workforce. Hambantota has neither schools nor even much population, so this just cannibalizes growth that could be happening in Colombo, or even Kandy or Galle. The main impetus here is that the Rajapaksas are from there, but that also means that the area will neglected when they’re out of power.
This seems to be the problem. The Rajapaksas are thinking like they’re a kingly dynasty and not like they’re temporary custodians of power. Kings back in the day would shift capitals at great expense and often suffering and the people would just deal with it over generations. These moves would often be on personal or astrological whims. This cavalier re-investment of people and resources shouldn’t be taken lightly. In the current case, it’s just kinda dumb.
Sri Lanka’s economy is largely based in the Western Province, in Colombo. It’s seeing high growth in the North Central Province, around Anuradhapura. We have a natural harbor in Trincomallee. If any place needs government-funded, long-term development it’s Jaffna – a move that would engender much goodwill and bring resources and people from abroad. I’m not saying that Hambantota is a bad place to develop, what is? I’m just saying that it’s not the best, and it’s not best for the country.
My specific comments are that Hambantota is insanely hot for an IT Park, requiring more money. It’s also very far from human capital, requiring people to actually move. It also has trouble with water supply. Furthermore, I don’t think competing with Colombo is the best idea. There are plenty of areas in Colombo that could develop further, especially Colombo North. Sri Lankans cities shouldn’t be competing with each other, we should be allocating resources intelligently to compete with the world.