New urban agglomeration emerging in southern Sri Lanka

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lankan cities are more liveable than others in south Asia but it has the fastest urbanisation rate with new agglomerations emerging in southern Galle – Matara in addition to the existing one around Colombo, the World Bank said.

“We begin to see in Sri Lanka not only the growth of individual cities but multi-city agglomerations,” said Ede Jorge Ijjasz-Vasquez, senior director of the World Bank.

Cities are being connected with ‘ribbon growth’ along road connections between cities, he told a forum where the World Bank’s new report on urbanisation was launched.
 
There is rapid growth of urbanisation along the periphery of cities like Colombo and other regional cities and their transport arteries.

“We see the emergence of the Galle-Matara agglomeration,” said Ijjasz-Vasquez. “A network of cities is beginning to form which needs a very different way of looking at urbanisation in Sri Lanka.”

How groups of cities are connected, the ways in which corridors grow and way in which regional development takes place matter to the island’s economic growth.
 
“It is a fantastic opportunity if managed well,” said Ijjasz-Vasquez. “Sri Lanka is a country that has urbanised fast and well and has a large urban population. Therefore it is important to make the right choices today to propel country forward.”

The report, ‘Leveraging Urbanization in South Asia: Managing Spatial Transformation for Prosperity and Livability’,  draws on night life data derived from satellites to show the growth of urbanisation.

It said Sri Lanka had the fastest expansion of urban area relative to urban population, with a ratio of more than seven.

While the country’s total urban area grew at a rate close to that for the region overall, its urban population growth rate was much slower than for the region overall.

“The rapid expansion of urban area relative to urban population reflects the sprawl and ribbon development that are characteristic of Sri Lanka’s urban development,” the report said.

The report said a multicity agglomeration is a continuously lit belt of urbanization containing two or more cities, each of which had a population of at least 100,000 living within its administrative boundaries in 2010.
 (Colombo/October 01 2015)
 

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