Distinguished guests, good afternoon.
You will all agree with me that a livable and well-functioning city is a city that has its basic services in place – a clean, walkable, green city – accessible and enjoyable for all (the residents and the visitors alike, the able and differently able and the aging population). The new public conveniences meaningfully contribute to improve the livability of Colombo, addressing one of the most basic service needs, helping to improve the experience of the visitors and commuters when visiting the city, and in doing so, contributing to improve the overall image of the city and municipality (imagine you visit a beautiful house and discover that the bathroom is in a mess…. your perception of that house and house owner will change to negative).Let me start by saying that it is an honor for the World Bank to be an active partner supporting Sri Lanka in the challenge of transforming Metropolitan Colombo into a world class capital and it is indeed an honor for me and my colleagues to be here with you today to inaugurate the first investments delivered under the Metro Colombo Urban Development Project (MCUDP): the first group of seven buildings for Public Conveniences for Colombo Municipal Council (CMC).
We are all aware that MCUDP cannot solve all the problems of Colombo Metropolitan Area, but the project also aim to create new partnerships between central agencies and project local authorities to set new quality standards in delivering services and strengthening the capacity of local authorities to continue to do so on the long term.
What we are inaugurating today is only the physical part of the project. In fact, the real challenge of operating and maintaining these assets in a sustainable way starts now. Sustainable operation and maintenance requires sound asset management systems and it requires also (i) involving the users, to ensure appropriate use, and (ii) involving private operators, to maintain the highest performance standards over time. The Project will continue to work with CMC and other PLAs (Project Local Authority) after the demonstration projects are completed, to make sure that sustainable asset management systems are developed, learning from these early experiences and also from the experience of other cities around the world.
I will conclude by reiterating that the World Bank is indeed honored to be a development partner in the urban sector in Sri Lanka and to be able to support the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development (under the leadership of Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa) to deliver innovative, transformational projects like Metro Colombo Urban Development Project. We look forward to continuing to be a reliable partner in setting new standards and processes to deliver integrated and sustainable urban infrastructures and services; contributing to transform the Colombo Metropolitan Area and other strategic urban centers in Sri Lanka into more livable and sustainable cities for all. We see this as the beginning of a long-term partnership in the urban sector, to assist Sri Lanka to set new international standards and become a best practice model for other countries in South Asia and around the world.
Thanks to Project Director (PD), Project Management Unit (PMU), Colombo Municipal Council (CMC). Thank you for your attention and for being with us here today.