gossip lanka

Trace Expert City should remain: Dr. De Silva

National Policies and Economic Affairs State Minister Dr. Harsha De Silva yesterday said the sudden strike by railway employees over the Trace Expert City land issue was unwarranted and that the Tech-City should not be destroyed.

The State Minister said the government has already assured the
railway employees that the issue would be discussed with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Transport Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva next Monday.

“The issue at the Trace Expert City in Colombo arose after the Cabinet approval was granted last month to construct a building as a new railway control centre in the premises. I was informed that a group of people had arrived at the Trace Expert City and they were attempting to mark and separate a land from the Trace City for the building. We informed the concerned railway employees that the issue would be taken with the Prime Minister and the Transport Minister next Monday. When we have already given an assurance, there is no need to go for a strike,” he told a news briefing.

He said 10 acres from the railway department land had been allocated for the Trace Expert City where a number of tech and IT giants are based on and that there was a separate land of five acres 200 meters away from the Trace City premises.

The State Minister said the new control centre could be built using one acre of the separate five acre land which had not been utilized.

“However, we have not come to a final decision as to where the building would be built. That’s why we organised the meeting with the Premier and the Transport Minister to make a final decision and informed this to railway employees. The railway Control Centre building should be built without destroying the Trace City, the only IT park in the country,” he said.

Commenting on the Cabinet approved railway project, under which the railway control centre building would be built, State Minister Dr. De Silva said not even the fact finding mission of the project had been released yet.

“It will come out in October this year and the funds for the project will be released only by next year. There is no need to strike over the issue when the project is not even in the horizon and an assurance had already been given to discuss the issue,” he said.

Meanwhile, he rejected the reports that he threatened the railway employees when he visited them to discuss the issue and said the discussion was cordial.

The State Minister said the Trace Expert City, though it was launched by the previous government, was a commendable and a good initiative and that it should be protected.

“The Trace City is growing rapidly. There are at least 1,200 employees who work here and the average salary of an employee is about Rs.175,000. This is a location where Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) are being created. We can’t hold on the garments and shoes forever. Developing IT and IPR is the way forward. There are more than 10 IT companies are there and recently London Stock Exchange also moved in after buying Millennium IT which wrote the software for both Colombo and London Stock Exchange. Under the government’s V2025 plan, which promotes knowledge based highly competitive economy, we should expand initiatives of this nature,” he said.

He also in a Facebook post said “Yes! Gotabaya Rajapaksa started the Tech City by renovating the dilapidated Tripoli market taken over by the Army during the war. And yes it is a very good thing. I have no problem appreciating what is good. That is mature politics. Also, some may recall it was I who protested when the land was to be given to a private developer who happened to be a close relation of a senior official at the time,” (Lahiru Pothmulla)