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Japanese investor steps into face-lift Pettah floating market

A Japanese investor has stepped up to breathe new life into Pettah’s floating market and spearhead the revamp to the iconic landmark underlining Sri Lanka’s position as a premier tourist destination.

The memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the project was signed by the Urban Development Authority (UDA) Chairman Nimesh Herath and the Japanese investor Akira Hirose yesterday at UDA in Battaramulla. 

The total amount invested in the renovation is Rs. 300 million. The local partner is J&S Masters Ltd.Herath reiterated the commitment to select the most suitable investor to revive the Pettah floating market while ensuring minimal disruption to existing businesses. 

The Japanese investor will manage and operate the Pettah floating market under a 30 year lease agreement. The envisioned transformation aims to position the floating market as a Japanese Town and a tourist attraction. 

The project, slated for completion within six months, will undergo a comprehensive redevelopment to address issues such as inadequate maintenance, security concerns and declining business activity.

The UDA faced severe criticism over the management of the floating mall and taking heed of these concerns, Urband Development and Housing Minister Prasanna Ranatunga directed the UDA to explore opportunities for development through public-private partnerships (PPPs), given the current economic challenges in the country.

Minister Ranatunga said the importance of ensuring that existing shop owners are not disadvantaged during the development process.

Originally opened on 25 August 2014, the Pettah floating market was conceptualised under the guidance of former Defence and Urban Development Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa. However, under the previous administration, the floating market faced neglect, resulting in deteriorating conditions and dwindling business activity.

Following a complete renovation in accordance with the vision for developing Colombo Fort as a commercial and historical hub, the floating market was reopened on 7 April 2021.

About 80 percent of the shops at the Pettah Floating Market had closed down by the beginning of the year, Urban Development Authority (UDA) announced on Wednesday.The UDA said that the floating market was declared open in 2014 at a cost of 352 million rupees.However, shop owners have been moving out during the last few years due to the lack of maintenance, unhygienic surroundings and various illegal activities taking place there, the UDA said

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