The Chinese and Sri Lankan governments are expected to reach a solution on the much discussed USD 1.4 billion Colombo Port City project soon, according to a senior official from the Chinese Foreign Ministry Chen Feng.
The new Sri Lankan government has expressed its commitment towards the Colombo Port City Project, which remains under review since the arrival of the new government in March.
Chen Feng, a Counsellor and Division Director at Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that it was normal for a new government to re-evaluate the decisions and projects proposed by the previous government.
“The most important factor is to enhance the mutual understanding between the two countries. I think the two governments are now gradually working towards coming back to the normal track and all the projects will restart soon,” Feng told a group of visiting Sri Lankan journalists in Beijing, China.
Chinese developers were due to buy 20 hectares of freehold land under the USD 1.4 billion Port City project in the capital Colombo, in a deal brokered by Sri Lanka’s previous government. However, President Maithripala Sirisena’s new government put the project on hold in March, pending negotiations, saying it lacked the necessary permits and approval.
The construction of a breakwater for the port city project funded by China was approved in March this year, following the project’s suspension by the new government amid environmental concerns.
Sri Lanka’s Cabinet allowed China Harbor Engineering to move forward with certain segments of the project which can prevent possible damages from sea erosion and rains, including the construction of the breakwater.
Feng commended the two governments on their handling of the situation during the transition period.
He added that Sri Lanka was one of China’s most important partners along the silk route especially because of its strategic location.
He also said that they were in close contact with the Chinese construction company of the Port City project, China Communications Construction Co Ltd. (CCCC). CCCC estimated when the project was suspended that the shutdown would result in losses of more than USD 380,000 a day.
“The project caused a few difficulties for the company, but I believe that these can be resolved as the new government has expressed its willingness to proceed with the projects in Colombo especially the Kidney Hospital and Water Treatment Plant.”
The project envisages new berths for vessels at the nearby port, hotels, shopping centers, office buildings and residential complexes, encompassing an area of over 5.3 million square meters.