Future of Trincomalee | Daily News

Future of Trincomalee

Trincomalee, or Trinco as it is often called by locals, is one city that exemplifies Sri Lanka’s linguistic and cultural diversity. It is a picturesque city where Sri Lanka’s three main communities live together in harmony in almost equal numbers. It is also known as a tourist hotspot, with such iconic attractions as Fort Frederick (completed in 1624), Swami Rock, Koneswaram Temple, Lover’s Leap, Pigeon Island and of course, the crystal clear blue ocean. The Eastern city is also known for its free-roaming herds of deer which are completely at ease among humans.

Trincomalee suffered immensely during the 30-year old conflict that severely impeded its socio-economic development. Even though it was under Government control and was less affected than neighbouring Batticaloa and the Northern cities, Trincomalee and surrounding areas were caught up in the general drift of the conflict. Both local and foreign tourists stayed away, industry and agriculture faded and infrastructure facilities were adversely affected. The one silver lining was that the residents of Trincomalee never lost their sense of amity and togetherness even at the height of the conflict.

After the war ended nearly 10 years ago, Trincomalee lost no time in getting its vibe back. It has now regained its rightful place as the best city in the Eastern Province. Tourism is again prospering – the city is consistently ranked as one of the best places to visit in Sri Lanka by foreign magazines and newspapers. The resourceful people of Trincomalee are working hard to make their city an even better place to live in. Now the Government has stepped in with a comprehensive plan, having realized the great potential of Trincomalee for the future.

By 2050, Trincomalee is envisioned to become the largest city in Eastern Sri Lanka, serving as a magnet for Northern, Eastern, and Central Provinces as an employment, education, healthcare, tourism, and energy hub. Its population is projected to be 1.24 million occupying 300 square kilometres of land.

In fact, Trincomalee will become Sri Lanka’s ‘Eastern Gateway’ and will be remodelled as a hub for tourism, exports and logistics under a master plan for the district done by Singapore’s urban planning firm Surbana Jurong Consultants Pte Ltd. The master plan, done for the Ministry of Megapolis and Western Development, adopts an integrated ‘B.L.U.E. (Biodiversity, Liveability, Uniqueness, Economy) urbanism planning approach. This approach could indeed be followed by other cities around the island.

The acronym communicates four clear goals shaping the master planning framework to protect the region’s biodiversity, enhance its liveability while retaining its uniqueness and strengthening the economy of Trincomalee. The plan is a comprehensive one that seamlessly integrates the strategies and proposals from three key aspects related to urban development, namely Land Use, Transport and Infrastructure. The land use aspect covers environmentally sensitive areas and land set aside to meet all projected economic, residential, amenities and recreational needs.

Aligning with the Government’s plan of drastically increasing exports, Trincomalee would become the ‘Eastern Export Hub’ by creating a clean industrial ecosystem that can add value to the rich agriculture, aquaculture and mineral resources available in its hinterland in the Eastern, North-Central, and Northern Provinces.

Trincomalee already has one of the world’s most renowned natural harbours – developing it up to international standards will not be difficult. Several friendly countries have already indicated an interest in developing this port. Naturally, Trincomalee would also be repositioned as an ‘Eastern Tourism Hub’ with increased regional connectivity, realized through the Colombo - Trincomalee Economic Corridor development and the proposed Hingurakgoda International Airport, around 90 Km away or one hour on the proposed high speed road network. A number of international airlines may wish to fly directly to Hingurakgoda given its proximity to Trincomalee. There will also be more opportunities for domestic operators to connect BIA/ Ratmalana with Trincomalee using bigger planes. The plan also recognizes Trincomalee as the ‘Eastern Logistics Hub’. This will apparently be done by attracting its share from growing maritime trade in the Bay of Bengal as well as gains from economic opportunities resulting from proposed Free Trade Agreements with South Asian and South East Asian countries.

However, all these efforts would come to naught if the residents’ needs are not adequately addressed. Hence, the detailed land use plan would ensure that enough land is set aside to efficiently serve ‘live-work-play’ needs of future residents while the zoning plan would guide urban development in a sustainable manner. Urban design guidelines would shape unique and memorable public spaces.

The development plan for Trincomalee District will also open up growth opportunities for the eastern and northern parts of Sri Lanka in order to contribute to the holistic development of the island. Indeed, this will be a very comprehensive plan for development and social progress that could be applied to the other provinces depending on its success. Attention should also be focused on developing Batticaloa, other Eastern cities and tourism sites such as Arugam Bay under this plan. The proposed B.L.U.E. holistic approach to development must be more widely adopted to accelerate overall development with a human touch. 

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