By Chandeepa Wettasinghe
The China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) which is constructing the Colombo Port City is extremely confident of receiving government approval to go ahead with the project.
“Yes, we’re very positive of getting government approval,” CHEC Sales and Marketing Chief Liang Thow Ming told Mirror Business.
All infrastructure projects were put on hold and subjected to review when the new government came into power, citing irregularities in funding and procurement. The Port City faced further criticism due to its allegedly unquantified environmental impact. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had said that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was not conducted.
Government officials and engineers who had been involved with the project had confirmed, saying that the Port City construction was based on the EIA conducted for the Colombo South Harbour Development Project.
However, CHEC had adamantly maintained that it had followed every procedure which was requested by the government.
“We can manage the environmental side,” Ming reaffirmed. CHEC’s position is that the Colombo South Harbour poses more of an environmental impact, which was approved by the Asian Development Bank, which therefore would rationalize the development of the Port City. In addition to environmental impacts, complications have arisen in managing sewerage and utilities. Meanwhile, Ming said that several investors have already partnered or expressed interest in the project, and that CHEC continues to canvass for other investors.
Ming has been showcasing Port City’s latest master plan—which is to be presented to the Urban Development Authority—at various events across Colombo.
He had said that there is no concern for territorial integrity, as the government and CHEC will bid for land allotments on a turn-by-turn basis, which would not allow for complete airspace or maritime rights.
The reclamation and initial infrastructure has drawn in an investment of US$ 1.4 billion, while development of residences, retail and office spaces, schools and other structures are expected to draw in another
US$ 13 billion.
The government seems to be moving in the direction of allowing all infrastructure projects to continue, albeit at lower costs or with reduced scope.
“We’re continuing all infrastructure projects, and even some not approved by the Cabinet,” Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake too said this week.
CHEH is a subsidiary of Chinese state-owned China Communication and Construction Company (CCCC).