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Feature - Colombo Port City workers take pride in creating new land for Sri Lanka

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by Tang Lu and Jamila Najmuddin

COLOMBO, Dec. 11 (Xinhua) -- On Saturday, the mega Colombo Port City, built on 269 hectares of land reclaimed from the sea, celebrated the integration of the reclaimed land with the capital city of Colombo.

The celebration, with Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa as the chief guest, included the release of a first day cover and a spectacular display of fireworks, which thrilled the large gathering on the site and beyond.

Razmin Shahary, a 31-year-old accounts assistant, joined CHEC Port City Colombo (Pvt) Ltd. abbreviated as Port City Colombo by locals, the company constructing the project, in 2014 as a receptionist. She said she could never forget the day when the leaders of China and Sri Lanka laid the foundation stone for the Port City and performed the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

It was on that day, for the first time in the history of the Port City, sandblasters blasted sand out of the seabed. The sandblasters did this round the clock for years till all the 269 hectares of land earmarked for the Port City were recovered from the sea to build a magnificent Colombo Port City which is to be Sri Lanka's financial and commercial hub with all attendant facilities.

From that day on, Razmin Shahary, like other local employees, began to see her dream come true -- the transformation of the ancient Port of Colombo into a city of the future.

"It is unimaginable that with our own hands we have added a new piece of land to Sri Lanka," Razmin said, her eyes widening in amazement.

The Port City project is adjacent to the famous Galle Face Green running along the Arabian Sea. Locals like to sit on the grass or on benches, taking in the cool sea breeze, and watching the Port City come up on their right. They would see vehicles moving up and down and dredgers on their job 24 hours without a break. Indeed it was a beehive of non-stop activity.

It was on Jan. 16, 2019, that with three long whistles, the last giant dredger stopped scooping sand from the seabed. The task of reclaiming land had ended.

Jiang Houliang, managing director of CHEC Port City Colombo (Pvt) Ltd. announced that all 269 hectares of land meant for the Colombo Port City had been reclaimed from the sea.

The then Metropolitan and Western Development Minister Champika Ranawaka said, "Colombo Port City is the most spectacular development in Sri Lanka's history."

"Very professional and skilled," remarked Marine Engineer Silva on the work which had gone into the land reclamation project.

Silva graduated from Moratuwa University, known as the "cradle of engineers" in Sri Lanka. He was earlier engaged in engineering consultation for many years and was responsible for breakwater quality control in a company working near the Port City. In December 2014 he joined the Port City Colombo.

"Coincidentally, I had been a marine engineer near the Port City. Therefore, I am very familiar with marine engineering issues here. That experience had made my work in the Port City easy," Silva said.

Sanjeewa Alwis, who works as an electromechanical engineer in Port City, studied in China for six years and graduated from Tsinghua University with a major in electrical engineering and automation. Due to lack of job opportunities in Sri Lanka, Alwis said, he worked for companies outside Sri Lanka for a long time before returning home.

"I have always wanted to work for Sri Lanka. I am now finally able to use what I have learned in China in my hometown. I am proud of the Port City as it is an unprecedented project in Sri Lanka's history," Alwis declared proudly.

"Everything we have done so far will be an example for Sri Lankans of the future. The development of the Port City will benefit the country, the people and our future generations," he said confidently.

Dulani Palihawadana, a 37-year-old, executive secretary and document controller, joined the company in 2014, enticed by the prospect of creating new land.

"The day the port city project was announced, I joined it to create new land! That is so incredible and moving," Dulani said.

Ou Yong, head of Commercial and Legal at CHEC Port City Colombo (Pvt) Ltd, was already involved in the Port City project before it was formally launched in 2010. Now he can finally walk on the newly created land and admire the prototype of the Port City.

The 1.6 km long Colombo's first artificial golden sand beach was opened in early April this year. The yacht marina area, which will become an attractive water sports area in the Port City in the future, has entered the final stage of creation.

More than 400 trees planted in the Central Park have brought greenery to the new city.

It appears that every local employee has a beautiful view of the future Port City in his mind. Recently, in the Project Department's slogan writing contest on the future of the Port City, the employees expressed their feelings about the future development of the City.

The slogans uniformly radiated happiness with the present and hope for the future, as in the following slogans "A port of dreams and a city of the future, "A city that brings happiness to the next generation" and "A developed, beautiful, and environmentally friendly city".

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