Foreign labour is abundant today on some of the key Sri Lankan projects due to a dearth of adequately skilled and sufficiently exposed workers in development work. Currently, there are approximately 200 Chinese employees working as managers, technicians and labourers on the Colombo South Harbour project at the Colombo port.
This labour is hard to come by as this type and calibre of people capable of working on projects of this nature is not found in Sri Lanka, technical officials told the Business Times. Sri Lankans are said to lack the sufficient skills since they were not exposed to working on similar projects previously.
However, construction of roads and buildings were carried out by the local workforce, officials point out. Interestingly, a number of workers from Bangladesh were also brought down to work on the same project for the construction of the breakwater at the Colombo port.
They are paid around US$3 per day while the local workforce was paid about US$2 per day. Further, the Hambantota Port employs nearly 100 skilled workers today whereas previously there were nearly 300.
The Hambantota (Mattala) International Airport (HIA) provides work for approximately 200 employees from China working in the capacity of managers, technical officers and labourers.