China and Sri Lanka join to create 'pearl of Indian Ocean'
COLOMBO - Looking out the window, Sanjeewa Alwis could easily see the dredging vessels in the distance, strenuously pumping the yellow sea sand into the air, which resembles a bridge built between Colombo's beautiful clouds and the construction site of Colombo Port City.
Such a sight reminded Sanjeewa of many fond memories, especially that of participating in the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held in Beijing last year.
"I still vividly remember that in the 'Enhance People-to-People Bonds' parallel session of the Belt and Road Forum, I shared my story of representing the Port City Project to ask (the) Sri Lankan government for a backup water supply inlet," Sanjeewa said in his office at the construction site.
Sanjeewa explained it was not easy to push forward the project at that time. However, one year later, with the mega project gaining increasing popularity in the island country, the Port City has already begun to take shape, under the joint efforts of the Sri Lankan and Chinese sides.
Codeveloped by the Sri Lankan government and China's CHEC Port City Colombo (Pvt) Ltd, the Port City is designed as a financial, residential and entertainment hub in the Indian Ocean region. Its construction and development are expected to be completed in 25 years.
As the Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing Manager of the project, Sanjeewa proudly introduced the construction progress of the Port City.
He said that out of the total planned 269 hectares, more than 220 hectares of land had been reclaimed from the sea so far, with infrastructure construction set to begin next month.
The weather in Colombo turns capricious in May. Without warning, dark clouds blanket the sky, threatening heavy rainfall. However, the construction site remained as busy as usual, with the low rumble of trucks endlessly ferrying quarried stones.
The monsoon climate indeed brought many difficulties. Last November, a cyclone hit Colombo and damaged parts of the Port City's breakwater which was under construction.
"At that time, the contractors of the project pulled out all the stops to make up (for) the losses caused by the cyclone," said Wang Hao, assistant general manager with CHEC Port City Colombo.
Wang said that despite unfavorable weather conditions, everything was on schedule. More than 2.4 kilometers of the breakwater has been built and over 60 percent of the overall construction work has been completed.
The Port City has also begun to prepare for foreign investment.
In April, the Sri Lankan government approved the Port City's Development Control Regulations, which enables land to be sold to investors.
According to the Planning Department of CHEC Port City Colombo, the DCR provides details on the use of every area of the Port City's land, as well as the regulations to be observed by developers, investors and other development partners.
The fast development of the Port City in the past year gives Sanjeewa a deeper understanding of the Belt and Road Initiative.
In order to better cooperate within the framework of the initiative, "we need to understand each other first, and bond our hearts together. Luckily, Sri Lanka and China have achieved that in the project of the Port City. I believe in the future we will build the city into a pearl of the Indian Ocean," Sanjeewa said.