In the wake of halting Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) funded 12 projects in Sri Lanka, the Japanese donor agency seems to have been given consent to resume or launch mega water infrastructure projects, Water Supply and Estate Infrastructure Ministry officials claimed. .
Sri Lanka’s relations with Japan was tested in the last two years after former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa scrapped a JICA-funded US$ 1.5 billion light railway transit (LRT) project claiming it was too expensive and unilaterally cancelled a $500 million trilateral deal with India and Japan to develop the Eastern Container Terminal (ECT) of the Colombo Port.
Sri Lanka has recently been trying to rebuild relations with Japan who previously poured many millions of dollars in funds to the country.
Japan and Sri Lanka are in talks to recommence stalled projects funded by Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA) here, upon the imminent conclusion of the ongoing debt restructuring process.
The matter was discussed at a meeting on Wednesday (Aug. 16) chaired by Minister of Water Supply & Estate Infrastructure Jeevan Thondaman, with Japanese Ambassador Mizukoshi Hideaki and the Chief of Representative of JICA Tetsuya Yamada in attendance.
The Ministry of Water Supply and Estate Infrastructure Development said the two sides discussed about laying the groundwork for innovative, new water infrastructure projects that align with the island nation’s developmental goals.
During the meeting, a diverse array of topics were covered, reflecting the collective commitment towards advancing the island nation’s water sector, enhancing sanitation efforts, implementing crucial plantation reforms, and addressing the challenges faced by upcountry plantation communities.
Further, the ministry mentioned that the focus of the discussion also fell on the recent initiatives in the water sector.
Accordingly, Minister Thondaman has shared plans to improve the performance and efficiency of the National Water Supply & Drainage Board (NWSDB) and a new public-private partnership (PPP) initiative for a floating solar energy solution to address the energy requirement for safe water production.
The lawmaker underscored the importance of improving the performance of the Water Board, introducing new corporate and business processes, upskilling the workforce and the strategic introduction of new technologies.
The JICA has expressed their willingness to support these initiatives through Japanese technology and processes.
The minister also shared his vision for reforms within the plantation sector, underscored by the establishment of policy formulation committees addressing the education, health, housing, employment, skills development and other needs and issues faced by plantation communities.
The two sides further discussed the existing plantation model and the urgency of a new, equitable model as a significant step towards the sector’s future transformation.
The JICA also expressed its keen interest in actively supporting initiatives that uplift the conditions of the upcountry plantation communities in Sri Lanka.