November 19, 2021
Director General of South Asia Department of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Sakamoto Takema, concluded his week-long visit to Sri Lanka. Sakamoto chose Sri Lanka as his first destination in South Asian region since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.
Sakamoto had a series of fruitful meetings with H.E. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Hon. Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, Hon. Ministers and senior government officials, where he had in-depth discussion on Sri Lankan government's priority development agenda and some key ongoing projects, such as green agriculture and climate change including, in particular, renewable energy and adaptation measures. These meetings also highlighted the importance of collaboration of both Sri Lankan government and JICA in such a way that it could pave the way for the external investors to participate more actively in areas of the country's priority.
During his stay in Sri Lanka, Sakamoto, with Hon. Prime Minister and other high dignitaries, also attended the opening ceremony of Kandy Wastewater Treatment Plant, which was funded by JICA's concessional loan in the amount of approximately JPY 15 billion (equivalent to approximately Rs. 25 billion). It is well noteworthy that the wastewater treatment could successfully introduce Japanese advanced aeration technology called "propeller oxidation ditch" system, an optimum cost-effective and energy-efficient technology, for the first time in Sri Lanka through this project. Sakamoto says that "this is another shining example of JICA's support for quality growth and human security, which can contribute to cleaner and sustainable development of the beautiful old city of Kandy, reducing the risks of waterborne diseases in the Mahaweli river basin."
In addition, Sakamoto hosted a press conference on "New Bridge Construction Project Over The Kelani River", which is fast approaching completion. He highlighted such remarkable features as Japanese high technologies, environmental and social considerations that made possible a better natural environment and better life for the affected, construction safety, and gender equality of the workers involved, all of which lead to materialize "Qquality Infrastructure" JICA has been promoting globally through its Official Development Assistance. Extradosed bridge structure as well as steel box girder technologies have been introduced for the first time in Sri Lanka. Sakamoto took a walk on the new Kelani bridge and gladly witnessed the final stage of the works underway. Sakamoto's site visits included Bandaranaike International Airport Development Project as well, where he had a fruitful and constructive discussion with the authorities, consultant and contractors towards further speedier and yet safe construction of the new passenger terminal and other airport facilities that will greatly enhance the handling capacity of both passengers and freight. Construction of the extended aprons has already come close to completion.
Sakamoto, furthermore, visited the Japan-Sri Lanka Friendship Baseball Ground in Mahinda Rajapaksa Stadium in Homagama, to commemorate the opening match of the Knockout Championship 2021, together with Mr. Kodama Kazune, a JICA volunteer deployed to the Sri Lanka Baseball/Softball Association since August this year for the first time since the Easter Sunday terrorist attack in April 2019. The year 2021 marks the 40th anniversary of the dispatchment of the first JICA volunteer ever deployed in Sri Lanka. Sakamoto stated "JICA also places high importance on enhancing human-to-human exchange between the two countries, and is enthusiastic about dispatching more volunteers in as more diverse fields as before, surrounding environment permitting".