Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Magapolis/Megalopolis – Must be Environmentally Friendly for Success

We are in 2016. We are consciously building a NEW URBAN center in South Asia, that has NO rivals. Then we have to think ahead, into the realm of the UNKNOWN. This is a once in a lifetime chance, of creating a truly environmentally friendly, livable, and above all INCLUSIVE city for rich and poor alike.

THE USP would then be the most environmentally friendly/ sustainable / livable Urban Center in Asia! Our Urban Planners must have a vision at least that ambitious if they are to have a remote stab at success.

In order to do this, we MUST know where we have gone wrong with that concept to date. We have NOT planned our development like most modern cities do. Put simply, the poor worker who slaves in offices or homes in Colombo, does not have a bus after 6.30pm to take him home. That is simply UNACCEPTABLE.

What Megapolis if we have still not been able to turn our belching state buses into LNG ones, when most capital cities have already done so and has NOT even been suggested by our urban and transport planners.

Now it seems we are about to take the most expensive option, that of light rail, in preference to Rapid Transit, in our Megapolis plan. If we cannot improve our road system, then at least reduce pollution by using LNG for buses, have some BUS only roads that will force some people to use public transport, and ban the highly polluting three wheelers on congested roads, because their emissions per waiting hour are 10 times that of a new SUV with a catalytic converter.

As the link above refers to the most important, and all too easily forgotten fact of low cost housing, as over 50% of the people of Colombo are below the poverty line, and are ESSENTIAL for the growth of services in the Megapolis, and tracts of land MUST be set aside for low cost housing projects, similar to that of Singapore, amidst parkland and recreational space.

For households Rs50K-Rs100K, plan for the Welikada Prison site of 33 acres for a 75,000 population city with shops, and schools would be one served with a monorail into the Port City. This would make it one of the most livable places if developed correctly. Ideal for middle class office staff in the Private Sector. Could be sold on a zero down, Rs25,000 month 2 bed flats, to those being displaced out of the Kelani River Valley who can pay.

The problem is no one appears willing to stick their necks out and present a master plan that encompasses ECOFRIENDLY sustainable development.

The only projects in play are highly expensive, Rs50M+ condominium developments for the rich, be they expatriate residents, or locals, with nowhere for their Rs60K a month maids to live and commute from within half hour. I am sure NO urban planner has even realized that within 5 years, that would be the wage payable for an efficient made in these high rises, as it is impractical to have more than one daily in these apartments, but she would have to do the work of two!

By that time all our Middle East maids would be back and will only work for these wages anyway. Only when one can realistically do a model of what life would be like in 5 to 10 years, can you plan for it, to ensure that the residents actually do have a quality of life superior to that of today. Otherwise even the concept is bankrupt before you begin.

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