BY SURESH PERERA
One hundred acres within the proposed USD multi-billion ‘port city’ to be built on reclaimed beachfront land bordering the Colombo harbor will be allocated to the investor on the basis of Return on Investment (ROI) for developing the infrastructure of this mega project, a high-ranking official said last week.
The investor is expected to inject an additional US$ 2.5 billion to develop the acreage given to him within the zone itself demarcated under a separate plan, says Dr. Priyath B. Wickrama, Chairman, Sri Lanka Ports Authority.
Reclamation of the 560-acre site is scheduled to commence this month (October) and work on developing the infrastructure completed within 39 months, he said.
"We expect investments in the range of US$ 15 – 20 billion to pour into this planned city during the next 10 years", Wickrama said in an interview with The Sunday Island.
After the land is reclaimed and vital infrastructure facilities such as a road network, drainage and telecom services are developed by the investor entrusted with the task, the ‘port city’ will also serve as an offshore business destination for trade with global ‘buying offices’ and international trading headquarters based in the location, the Chairman explained.
The property will be replete with hotels, apartments, shopping malls, entertainment, recreational activities and a whole gamut of ultra-modern, state-of-the-art business ventures in keeping with the concept of a planned city, he noted.
"It is an enormous US$ 2 billion investment that has to be pumped in for initial infrastructure development, which will be borne by the investor", Wickrama stressed. "We have struck a good bargain because this investor will have to channel another US$ 2.5 billion on developing the 100-acre land extent allocated to him".
The investor has entrusted the reclamation to China Harbor Engineering Corporation. After the task is completed, the government will demarcate slots to potential investors on a 99-year lease basis, it is learnt.
A mini golf course, a Formula I racing track and a yatch marina are also part of the proposed ventures for which potential investors will be sought, officials said. "They are on the cards".
Work on this mega development project will begin soon", the Chairman assured. "A RFP (Request for Proposal) is expected to follow, probably by end 2013".
He said that it was President Mahinda Rajapaksa who suggested that a viable project be launched "on the other side of the port as well", during a visit to inspect the site of the partially completed breakwater in 2008.
"We developed a model and started looking for a potential investor", Wickrama said. "It is a huge project with huge potential".