Limitless Southern sky

The Hambantota District which has been long deprived of national-level development is currently undergoing major transformations. The Hambantota development plan envisaged the establishment of a commercial centre, an international port, and an airport in the Southern Province.

The proposal to construct an international airport had been under consideration for some time due to its ability to serve as a catalyst to uplift the national economy.

Initially, a site located near the Weerawila Air Force Camp was selected to build the airport and later, feasibility reports found that the location is unsuitable for an international airport. After conducting an inspection, an area in the remote hamlet of Mattala was chosen.

After assessing the environmental and social impacts, the then government decided to set up an airport in Mattala, 25 kilometres north to Hambantota. Two thousand hectares were identified for the project, of which 800 hectares were identified for initial development. The initial cost estimate of the first phase of the project was US$ 209 million. It took three years and four months to complete the first phase.

The new airport brought employment opportunities and has potential to be a catalyst for development. Due to its strategic location, there is potential for the investor community to enjoy many benefits such as easy access to the airport, Customs duty and tax-free transshipment and warehouse facilities.

The establishment of the new airport has the capability to make a major contribution to the country’s wellbeing focussing on the neglected areas in the deep South. It could also boost trade, tourism, exports, and agriculture.

Mattala Airport has a capacity to handle one million passengers per year and the 23,500-metre runway is capable of accommodating large passenger aircraft such as the Airbus A380. Tourism could see a new chapter opening up with access to the Southern and Eastern beaches, and hill country in a few hours.

 


Mattala International Airport

Mattala International Airport will be turned into a joint venture between the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka and the Indian aviation authority on the initiative of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. The Industrial Zone and the Export Processing Zone were opened several years ago.

It was set up for the benefit of local and foreign investors. Two factories for the manufacturing of cement and refining of crude oil have already been set up at the Industrial Zone in Mirijjawila in Hambantota.

According to Board of Investment (BOI) sources, the oil refinery has been set up with an investment of US$ 3,850. It is said that this oil refinery is five times larger than the Sapugaskanda Oil Refinery. Two hundred thousand barrels of crude oil could be refined at this refinery per day. Seventy percent of the project is being handled by a Singaporean firm and a Chinese firm handles the rest.

The mammoth cement factory is being constructed with an investment of US$ 100 million. According to the Project Director, 3.6 million tonnes of cement could be produced at this factory annually. With the functioning of these two industrial ventures, Mattala International Airport and Hambantota Port will contribute greatly towards the economy, an economist who wished to remain anonymous said.

 


BOI CENTRE

The BOI in collaboration with Hambantota International Port and CM Port (China Merchants Port Holdings) has opened a 10-storied centre at the Port premises to facilitate local and foreign investors under one roof. Any investor who visits this centre can obtain complete knowledge of the services related to investment.

 


MARTELLO TOWER

Parallel to the airport project, the area that comes under the purview of the old kachcheri in Hambantota will be developed as a tourist attraction. Under the development programme, the ancient Martello Tower which is about 150 years old will be renovated retaining its pristine glory.

The Martello Tower is a creation of the colonial era during which the British forces were in Hambantota. It was built by British engineer Captain Goper who was attached to the British Army. This tower is 25 feet tall and the width is 40 feet. It consists of two floors and the ground floor was used to store arms and ammunition. The first floor was the residential area of British soldiers. The first-ever fisheries museum which functioned only for a few years was also set up at Martello Tower.


RUHUNU MAGAMPURA MUSEUM

RRuhunu Magampura museum set up several years ago at the old kachcheri premises which houses objects with historical, religious and archaeological value pertaining to Ruhunu Magam Pattu has become an attraction for local tourists, academics and, teachers and students.

 



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