Establishment of BIA Gateway Project
Sri Lanka has commenced a large number of infrastructure projects with the aim of transforming to a hub in a multitude of sectors. To this end the Western Metropolis plan has been put into action under which a number of key economic avenues are being enhanced with the aim of uplifting Sri Lanka to a high-income nation by 2030.
Bandaranaike International Airport has been in operation since 1944 and functioned as the primary aviation centre in Sri Lanka for decades. However, despite being in operation for decades, BIA still lacks many functionalities that are present in more modern airports around the world. Few of the areas that are to be added will be a transport network that caters to passenger movements, recreational activities within the airport as well as a the establishing of a high-end shopping centre.
The first phase of the development will consist of three main components. The first component being the Multi Modal Transport Center will look to develop the infrastructure around the BIA, by creating an integrated bus terminal, railway station, taxi and touring vehicles park and ride facility. Through the MMTC, passengers that come through the BIA will instantly be able to have access to interprovincial travel providing an easier way of travel to and from BIA to other parts of the country. The establishment of a railway station will be a massive boost to the BIA, as it will instantly link the rest of the country with BIA, cutting down travelling times massively.
Second Component will be the destination mall which will open up many new opportunities for the local businesses as well as larger brands to establishing a presence and engage with the BIA passengers. It is expected that the destination mall will benefit tourists who arrive for Meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE), as well as provide an outlet for local crafts industry to showcase their products to the international community. It is also expected that the Destination Mall will provide services such as banking and entertainment.
Third component of the BIA gateway project is the establishment of a Public recreation park which will mainly be a waterfront development. It will include recreational facilities, bicycle tracks, restaurants and café areas as well as act as a centre for night life providing a much needed 24×7 recreational activities for tourists.
The BIA gateway project will be carried out on a land that spans 8 acres with a cost of 1,357 million rupees and the government will completely bear the costs for both the Public Recreation park and the Multi Modal transport centre. However, the Destination Mall is to be funded as a PPP with the partnership of the government. The estimates for the private funding is set at 540 million rupees.
BIA will undoubtedly serve as one of the key cornerstones in the vision towards improving Sri Lanka’s economy towards a high-income nation. With the BIA gateway project, many of the shackles that presented a challenge to achieving the full potential of BIA are set to be removed. The three phases of the BIA project if implemented properly will revitalize the operations of the BIA in a larger scale and will also create an expanded job market around the area.
There remains to be much work ahead to bring BIA on par with some of the larger and more expansive airports of the world even with the completion of the phase one of the development. However, the development is a massive first step towards creating a self-sustaining eco system around the BIA which will solve a critical issue that has been in existence for decades.
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