Sri Lanka's mega port city poised to change face of Colombo

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Colombo, Jan 15 (IANS) Sri Lanka is building a mega port city project in its capital Colombo that will transform the country into an international financial and business hub in the Indian Ocean region in the coming years.

The $1.4 billion project, which is currently under-construction near Colombo Harbour, is Sri Lanka's largest foreign investment and the port city would be the first of its kind in the South Asian region, Xinhua news agency reported on Sunday.

The project is an investment of China Communications Construction Company Limited (CCCC) and has to date employed hundreds of locals.

"I feel very proud to be contributing towards this project as a Sri Lankan. The project is going to create more than 80,000 jobs within the next 20 years, which will benefit Sri Lanka immensely," said Chiranthi Balapatabandi, Marketing Communications Executive of CHEC Port City Colombo, the project's contractor.

Balapatabandi said that the project would help promote Sri Lanka's economy by encouraging foreign direct investments and private sector growth.

Sri Lanka, taking advantage of its strategic location, is seeking a strong role in China's Belt and Road Initiative.

"The Colombo port city will make Colombo a better place for Sri Lankans living overseas to return to their motherland to work and live. I truly believe the project is going to help Colombo become a vibrant business hub in South Asia," Balapatabandi said.

The project, which initially began construction in September 2014 under the former government, was suspended in March 2015 by President Maithripala Sirisena's government due to environmental concerns.

However, in March 2016, the project was given the nod by the government after successful discussions between the two countries and with all environmental reports cleared.

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