China Communication Construction Company (CCCC) will invest $800m to build an underground road network to Sri Lanka’s $1.4bn Port City, according to a government minister.
The plan is intended to ward off traffic congestion expected when the Chinese-funded Port City development, built on land reclaimed from the sea, is finished.
"Once legal procedure on the new reclaimed land is done, the construction will start," Sri Lanka’s Minister of Megapolis and Western Development, Champika Ranawaka, told reporters on 11 April, Reuters reports.
Reclamation work for the 269-hectare site near Colombo’s main port is more than 60% complete, Ranawaka said, adding that it is expected to be complete by the end of the year.
Sri Lanka is will use tax incentives to lure investment into Port City, a project of CCCC through its subsidiary, the state-run China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC).
Seen by China as a strategic node in its Belt and Road Initiative, Port City will have housing, marinas, health facilities and schools.
It has been controversial. In January 2015 the project was suspended by Sri Lanka’s newly elected president, Maithripala Sirisena, whose election campaign included a promise to reduce Chinese influence on the island nation, which grew during his predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa’s 10 years in office.
But after a sustained diplomatic effort from China the project was reinstated at the end of 2015.
Image: Artist’s impression of Colombo Port City, Sri Lanka (CHEC)