In The Press

Port City and the future of Sri Lanka

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Proper engineering studies were done prior to commencing the Colombo Port City project said Chief Sales and Marketing Officer of Port City Colombo, Liang Thow Ming.

Ming further said that two of their coastal engineering consultants, spent a year studying the wave patterns before getting to the drawing boards. “This was to make sure that the project does not affect the North and South shores of Colombo,” he said.

These views were expressed by Liang Thow Ming in a recent seminar organized by the Organization of Professionals’ Association (OPA) of Sri Lanka at their Auditorium in Colombo.

He was invited to make the presentation on the mega investment project under the topic ‘Port City and the future of Sri Lanka’.

Addressing the gathering, Liang Thow Ming likened the large stretch of Port City land, once properly reclaimed, to a blank sheet of paper which one could freely draw upon, (meaning, plan). He said that it should be seen as an opportunity to create one of the top cities in the world right here in Sri Lanka which every Lankan could be proud of.

He said, the Port City project is also huge from a local context, in terms of size it would have 21,000 units of apartments, as well as increasing the currently available office space in Colombo to 5 times that i.e. from 300,000 to 1.5 million square meters.

“However, in comparison with other global projects, we are not large; the Palm Jumeirah is 2 times the size of the Port City and the Marina Bay in Singapore is 330 hectares which is 15 percent larger. However, we have the opportunity to be the best in this region. So, we, together with the government, have tried to strategize this, and what we want to do is actually target Port City toward the whole of South Asia,” he says.

Fielding questions from the audience he gave reasons as to why Sri Lanka is ideal for this project, pointing to his presentation and the concentric circles around the island, each representing just one hour of flying time from the Katunayake airport, Liang said. “If you look at the first circle, and the second circle, by the time we have reached the second circle, we would have covered the 5 southernmost provinces of India. And the population there is 450 million.”

Then in another half an hour you can go to Mumbai and in three and a half hours to New Delhi, three and a half hours to cities like Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and get to Dubai in a little more than 4 hours. This is what the Prime Minister was talking about when he said Sri Lanka will be able to fill the void of a financial city between Dubai and Singapore; because we are right in the middle.”

Speaking about the Belt Road Initiative (BRI), he said it was divided into two parts i.e. one part which was over land and the other which is over the ocean. “The one over land is referred to as the belt and the one over the ocean is called the road. We are smack in the middle of the road and we are also in the center of shipping routes between Africa and Asia as well as Europe and Asia, which is the reason why Colombo is the top port in South Asia.”

Colombo on the other hand has been hailed as the most livable city in South Asia he adds, quoting a statistic provided by Mercer. “And I agree that Colombo is very good and very beautiful, but what we need to do in the Port City will be a quantum leap.“

The Chief Marketing Officer said that through the development of an interchange of expressways, driving to any part of the country would be much easier.

“People would be able to drive down to Hambantota, to Kandy, to the airport because it would literally link to the entire network of expressways in Sri Lanka. Recently we signed an MoU with the government to create this tunnel system, which will link our Northern and Southern entrances. And with this tunnel we are going to create some more entryways to the Port City and then there are also plans to extend the tunnel all the way to Marine Drive. Once the tunnels are built, Galle Face Green will be extended by another 20 - 30 meters once it is complete; which means you have a bigger area to play in.”

Referring to the light rail system proposed by the government, he says that 7 lines in total are being planned. “Twoof these lines are in a more advanced stage of planning right now. The RTS 1 will run from Fort all the way to Bambalapitiya and the RTS 4 will run from the same place to West Malabe. They will both have a station in Pettah, which is on a future development proposed by the government to make a multi-modal transport hub.” He says that once this was done all they would need to do would be to have a line from the multimodal transport hub running into the Port City. “We will develop 5 stations over there as well,” he says.

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