The $1.4 billion urban complex project will cover 233 hectares adjoining the Port of Colombo. The deal was signed between the Sri Lankan government and the China Communications Construction Co in November 2013.
“We feel Colombo is ideal for a South Asian financial hub,” Ambassador Karunasena Kodituwakku said in an interview with China Daily.
The location of the project will help connect businesses from India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Singapore and the Middle East, he said.
The Colombo Port City is one of China’s key projects along the 21st Maritime Silk Road. “The most important South Asian port” under the initiative “will be a port in Colombo or another port in Sri Lanka”, said the ambassador.
Colombo Port City will become “a high-end urban complex in South Asia concentrating industries, including finance, tourism, logistics and information technology”, and the whole project will create more than 80,000 jobs, according to the Chinese Embassy to Sri Lanka.
However, the Sri Lankan government suspended the project in early 2015 after Maithripala Sirisena became president.
A greater environmental impact assessment to allay public concern was needed, which was “not the fault of the Chinese company”, Kodituwakku said.
The construction project’s “incremental environmental impacts” were assessed as “minimal/negligible at the reclamation site and the coastal zone to the North and South of the site,” said an environmental impact report released in December by the Sri Lankan Coast Conservation and Coastal Resource Management Department.
“The project will create employment. It will create tax income and indirect opportunities for other services. … Everybody will benefit,” the ambassador said.