The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

Delayed port city costs $200 million more, less land


The delayed, gigantic Colombo port city project, which is to kick off in October, is almost like old wine in a new bottle! From an earlier plan of reclaiming 500 acres of the sea that would also cover the Galle Face Green stretch, the new plan, at a much higher cost but half the area, would be between the new section of the Colombo harbour(breakwater) and up to the Presidential Secretariat.

However the cost to the port to develop 243 acres has increased to US$900 from $700 million for 500 acres, three years ago, with officials saying costs have gone up. It will not cover the popular seafront promenade as decided under the earlier plan, which drew protests from environmentalists. The China Harbour Engineering Company has been offered 14% of the 243-acre land on long lease at an investment cost of $2 billion while also assigned the task of reclaiming the sea area. The investor in the earlier planned project was also connected to China Harbour. According to the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) Dr. Priyath Bandu Wickrema, the balance lots will be given on 99-year leases to potential investors. Request for proposals would be called next year. The revised plan was approved by the Cabinet Appointed Review Committee after almost a year of scrutiny, a top official of the Ministry of Ports and Highways told the Business Times. It is expected to be completed in 39 months.

Environmental impact assessments have been completed and a decision was taken to reduce the extent of land by half with the consent of the Committee, he revealed. Dr Wickrema said the area will be developed as a port city with appropriate planning to provide it with roads, water, and electricity and communication facilities and to set up shopping areas, a water sport area, a mini golf course, hotels, apartments and recreation areas such as marinas, etc. He revealed that the SLPA expects an investment of US$ 15 billion in creating these facilities within the Port City.

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