Port City now fully Sri Lankan owned :Champika Ranawaka
The Urban Development Authority on behalf of the Government would shortly call for tenders from investors to construct an international school, hospital and an International Conference Hall at the Colombo Port City premises, Megapolis and Western Development Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka announced yesterday. He said the future development work of the Colombo Port City would be carried out according to the tri-partite agreement. He said the government has been able to develop the lands of the Port City as several clauses of the agreement were revised. He further said that some plots of the Port City land would be leased to China Harbour Company shortly for the task of building the financial city as it has undertaken the responsibility to build it.
Addressing the media yesterday at the Megapolis and Western Development Ministry, Minister Ranawaka said that obtaining the ownership of the total of 1000 acres of this port city land was a great victory achieved by the present government. He said the Colombo Port City was now one hundred percent Sri Lankan-owned new asset to the people of this country.“The initial agreement was to sell a 20-hectare land area of the Port City to China while the rest will be given on a 99-year lease. But according to the agreement signed in 2016, the sale of 20 hectares has been taken out and the whole land will be given on a 99-year lease. As a result of that following the end of the lease period, Sri Lanka will claim full ownership of these lands.” said the Minister.
The Minister said that the present government had been able to change the clause that prevented Sri Lanka from doing any development for a period of three years. As a result of that now the government can do any development on this land“So we have already taken measures to call proposals for investors to build an international hospital, international school, convention center and a hotel in the port city. We hope that the leading companies in the world will invest here since Colombo has been identified as a non-polluted city in the region. Colombo would be the most attractive city in the South Asian Region with the development of infrastructure facilities of the port city.” he said. The minister stressed that all the constructions of Colombo Port City should be carried out according to the rules and regulations of the Central Environment Authority.“The idea of building a port city was first to come with the Colombo Metropolitan Plan. The initial plan was to build a port city within the Port of Colombo. The latest plan was changed under the CESMA Plan.” he said.
He further said that the project implemented under the previous government was stopped by present the government in 2015 since there was no proper environmental assessment as well as socio-economic assessment.“Under the former agreement, the Minister said 20 hectares were awarded to the Chinese company, creating the possibility to establish another country within Sri Lanka. Under the present government, we made changes to the plan. The first change was to remove the land given away, enabling to establish another independent city. We converted it into a 99-year lease. Then we assigned the authority of this land to the Urban Development Authority, instead of the Port Authority, which is unable to officially develop this reclaimed land.” said the Minister.
Then another issue was the burden of providing water, electricity, and the removal of waste. Instead of the Government shouldering the entire burden, we managed to split it between the Chinese company and the Government. We removed the burden on the Sri Lanka Government to look after the repairs and maintenance of the Port City for 40 years. Now, this is also a shared responsibility. We were faced with a penalty payment of 190 million US dollars for stopping the Port City project. We were able to get it removed by removing the Formula 1 race track planned for the Port City by the previous government. So, we were able to establish a park of 90 hectares inside Port City. Commenting on the transportation plan, the Minister said that the roads will be connecting the Port City with the Expressway by building a road on pillars. The Light Railway will also connect the Port City. A semi-tunnel will connect the Port City entrance at Chaithya Road to Kollupitiya.