Colombo Port City to attract USD 1 billion investment | Sunday Observer

Colombo Port City to attract USD 1 billion investment

14 June, 2020
Pix: Nalin Hewapathirana
Pix: Nalin Hewapathirana

Long term infrastructure investments have always been on top of the agenda for the Rajapaksa government and mega development projects such as the Mattala airport, the Southern and Katunayake highways, the Colombo Port City, the Norochcholai power project, extension of railway network and several irrigations projects were developed during the era.

Though these projects were criticised, the critics were proved wrong and these projects have been ‘life savers’ of the country.

Whenever a power crisis looms it’s the Norochcholai power plant that bails out the country to ensure uninterrupted power supply. The two highways have slashed travel time to the South and the airport by half and have also helped regional industries to bloom. The irrigation projects while adding power to the national grid had also supplied water for farmers and households proving that these investments were made at the right time.

First train

Today the most profitable route network for the Sri Lanka Railway is the Colombo Jaffna train service and the Rajapaska government had to completely relay a new track for this. For many of the youth in Northern province ‘Yal Devi’ was the first train they ever saw and travelled.

Creating history in the century-old rail network, the Sri Lanka Railway added 30 miles to the network when the track was extended from Matara to Beliatta.

While the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport was called a white elephant and was used to store paddy by the previous government today it is a world famous icon for crew changers and charter flights.

MRIA has also been recognised along with Katunayake and Ratmalana to accommodate international traffic when Sri Lanka opens its doors for tourists in August.

One of the most critical development projects in the history of Sri Lanka is the Colombo Port City Development which will re-write the Sri Lankan map adding 69 hectares of reclaimed land from the sea to its contours.

Construction of the Colombo Port City project was launched on  September 17, 2014 by then President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Chinese President Xi Jinping.  Work on the project was suspended after the fall of the Rajapaksa government and even the plaque that was laid by the two leaders was pushed to the sea.

However, after a lapse of nearly two year land reclamation commenced at a snail pace and with the change of government the project is now in full swing to develop the most liveable city in South Asia.

The Port City, Colombo’s (PCC) vision is to be the benchmark in environment friendliness and sustainability. It will be a place where environmentally friendly people, organisations and visitors will want to live and do business. It will also be a location where the residents and the transient population will be allowed to practice environmentally friendly habits enabling it be a show- piece city to the rest of the world.

It will be a green city, with open areas, waterways and parks. A city where good public transport options and a layout that will be conducive to walking and cycling will reduce the troubles of heavy traffic. It will be a city with green roofs, car parks with abundant shady trees and renewable energy installed. It will be a city that will promote a healthy and sustainable lifestyle to all inhabitants.

Signs of these features are already evident as several trees have sprung up.

With the rise of the Port City, a two kilometre strip of coast will emerge where people will feel the sea breeze and enjoy an evening at the beach.

Key areas

One of the key areas of focus from the several districts planned for Colombo Ports City is the International Financial City where construction work will commence at the end of the year.

The proposed International Financial City would comprise four towers and 45 floors.

The project developer, China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), has also pledged USD 1 billion towards the project.

This would be the single largest foreign direct investment for Sri Lanka for the past six years.

The Financial District will also see many foreign multinational companies moving their headquarters to it especially from corporates based in China, Singapore, Middle East and Hong Kong to move their operations to Sri Lanka.

The Colombo Port City will also be an attractive business land-mark as it’s laid in a key geographical location of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) of China.