Sri Lanka’s private sector has been told a host of investment opportunities have emerged in rebuilding transport infrastucture in the north and east, much of which was destroyed or neglected owing to war.
Transport specialist Rohan Abeywickrema said there were opportunities to create facilities to link farmers and factories in the northern and eastern rgeions with markets elsewhere in the island.
Areas for investment include private-public partnerships such as in setting up cold storage facilities to store and process fish, vegetables and fruit, he told a seminar on reviving the economy of the north-east organised by the Chamber of Construction Industry.
The government and private sector are looking for ways to revive and northern and eastern regions after security forces defeated Tamil Tiger rebels in May.
"Building processing centres and warehouses is another area of investment for the private sector," said Abeywickrema, a member of the Strategic Enterprise Management Agency, which overseas state enterprises.
The private sector could also invest in railwaye terminals and central freight stations, and logistics centres for packing, unpacking, labelling, tagging, and storage.
"We recommend that rail be used as a priority mode of transport provided the railway provides a good service," Abeywickrema said.
"At least a daily goods train running to and from Colombo. And delivery conditions must be smooth, without delay, to ensure for instance that fish harvested in the evening and beached can be transported to Colombo next morning."
Improving transport infrastructure could ensure better revenue for producers while reducing prices for consumers, Abeywickrema said.
"Almost 60 pertcent of perishables produced in the north and east is lost because of the absence of modern logistics managemenent systems,"
"We propose to reduce it to 10 percent which is the world standard."
Better processing in centres of production themselves could help reduce wastage and minimise garbage problems in consumer areas.
"We can also ensure producers do not have problems in selling produce particularly at harvest time," he said.
"We’re looking at generating adequate economic actviity and employment by setting up processing and storage centres in the northern and eastern regions." (LBO)