China plans $1bn investment in Sri Lankan financial city

A consortium led by China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) is to invest $1bn in three 60-storey office towers on reclaimed land in Sri Lanka’s new Port City, a government minister said yesterday.

Champika Ranawaka, the minister for regional development, said the towers would be part of a "new financial city". Mr Ranawaka, who was touring the Port City with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe at the time, added that the government expected to sign the agreements for the towers in Beijing before the end of the month.

Mr Wickremesinghe told reporters "In the future, this Port City will have at least 75,000 people residing here and 200,000 people moving in and out of the city on a daily basis."

Architect Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s rendering of the completed project

The $1.4bn port is being constructed by China Communication Construction Company, the parent company of CHEC, on 269ha of reclaimed land, protected by a 3km-long breakwater. The port and its financial centre is conceived as a regional trade and finance hub, and an important node on China’s maritime route to Europe and Africa.

Work began in late 2016 following a protracted political struggle within the Sri Lankan government, which reflected geopolitical rivalry between India and China (see further reading for more on the history of the scheme). As of December 2017, 61% of the land needed has been reclaimed.

CHEC’s plan view of the reclaimed land, just south of the existing port

It was also announced that the approval has been given for a tunnel project to connect Colombo with Port City. The work will be carried out by CHEC on a public-private partnership basis, and will provide a road link between port and capital. The planned route runs from Marine Drive and under the Galle Face Green esplanade to Port City.

The Port City will also include residential buildings, schools, banks, shopping malls, a marina, parks, hotels and public beaches. Once completed, the projected is expected to attract $15bn of foreign investment into Sri Lanka.

Top image: Colombo’s International Container Terminals, near where the new port city will be build (CDR)

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