• Sunday, July 5, 2020

THIS IS THE COLOMBO PORT CITY

Discussion in 'Central & South Asia' started by Azizam, Mar 31, 2015.

  1. Azizam

    Azizam BANNED

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    THIS IS THE COLOMBO PORT CITY?

    This is the Colombo Port City? - Icaruswept

    Yesterday, I was invited to go on a (guided) tour of the much-discussed Colombo Port City. I, along with a small crowd of twitterati, were taken to look at what’s already built, ask questions, take photos and cross-examine the management of CHEC Port City Colombo Private Limited, the people doing the actual construction. When I told my friends that I’d be at the Port City in the morning, the first thing everyone said was “Don’t get shot”.

    Indeed, I expected people with guns and boards saying “no photography”. It was something of a disappointment: I wasn’t shot at, was never told to put my camera down. We were taken in vans to the actual site, and I did not see a single soldier: instead, my group had David (Li Yue), a very cordial fellow who told me he’d been here for a year and a half and lived near the Beira Lake, towards the temple. He mentioned using Yamu.lk to explore the city and said that liked to get his coffee from Whight and Co on Marine Drive.

    David was worried; he referred multiple times to “this pressure”. We were escorted around by the chief engineer of the project (a Sri Lankan, though I did not catch his name). He’s the man on the left in white shirtsleeves in the photo below.

    I expected the tour to lead us away from the actual building of the land, and in that I was correct. We started at an engineer’s barracks, headed a brief distance to the edge of the marina being constructed, and then were whisked inland to the top of the Pagoda for “a bird’s eye view”. After that, it was off to a boardroom discussion with higher-ranking officials from the project. In short, we didn’t get to set foot on the significant portion of the work. Thankfully, my camera, while not very fancy, can still read numberplates at that distance.

    I expected the tour to lead us away from the actual building of the land, and in that I was correct. We started at an engineer’s barracks, headed a brief distance to the edge of the marina being constructed, and then were whisked inland to the top of the Pagoda for “a bird’s eye view”. After that, it was off to a boardroom discussion with higher-ranking officials from the project. In short, we didn’t get to set foot on the significant portion of the work. Thankfully, my camera, while not very fancy, can still read numberplates at that distance.

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  2. Azizam

    Azizam BANNED

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    @Shotgunner51 @Gibbs @DarkSeid @Saradiel @HeinzG

    THE NUMBERS

    The tour began from Galle Face Green and into a visual overview of the Colombo Port City. But before I project my opinion, here are the numbers. They’ll make it easier to understand (or visualize) the photos:

    • The Port City will be 223 hectares in area (2.23 square km, or 541 acres). It’s a huge curving shape that’ll stretch from the tip of the Colombo Port parallel to the Pagoda, curving towards an end in front of the Old Parliament building, and will be protected by a massive breakwater following the curve of the newly-built land. To be crude, we’re not giving land to the Chinese: the Chinese are making land.
    • The Port City Project is done by CHEC Port City Colombo, a company integrated under Sri Lankan law. It is a local front fully owned and operated by China Communications Construction Company Limited (CCCC).
    • CCCC is owned by the Chinese government; 10,324.9 million shares, 63.84% of the total capital, is held by the China Communications Construction Group, controlled by State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council (SASC). They’re listed on the stock exchanges of both Singapore and China ( SEHK: 1800, SSE: 601800 ). They’re also on Forbes Global 2000 (# 306), with assets worth $85.6 billion. Here are the reports from Reuters and Bloomberg.
    • As far as I can make out, they’re the third largest port construction company in the world. They built the Macau International Airport (the entire island, not just the airport), the Hong Kong International Airport (which also involved building the land it’s on) and the Gawadar Deepwater Port in Pakistan. In 2009 the World Bank debarred it for fraud in a Philippines road construction project, preventing it from working on any World Bank sanctioned road or bridge projects until January 12, 2017. You can Google these guys; skip past the wave of press releases and find newspaper articles from different countries for the best reading experience.
    • Why is CCCC important? Because CCCC is not an investor of the Port City, but the investor: the entirety of spending for this project is from their coffers (they told us the fund for the Colombo Port City roughly 30% from equity and 70% from loans they’ve obtained, but I have no way of verifying this.) CHECH Port City Colombo simply seems to be the legal intermediary. GoSL spends nothing.
    • Once the Port City is built, the Government of Sri Lanka, according to the contract, gets 125 hectares (308.882 acres) on a freehold basis (meaning you own it forever, and have the right to do what you want with it). CCCC gets 108 hectares (266.874 acres). Of these, 88 hectares are on a 99-year lease: at the end of 99 years, ownership is to be transferred to the GoSl. 20 hectares will be owned by CCCC on a freehold basis.I have not seen this contract, so make of this what you will. When I asked to see a copy of the document, or whether it will be released to the public at any point, I was told that the contract is private and confidential.









    MY GOD, IT’S FULL OF SAND

    We trudged out to an outpost of sand and rock, but it was only at the Pagoda that I managed to get a clear view of the proceedings:

    This is the Port City. Those blue-roofed buildings are where the tour started. That stretch of rubble past the lighthouse (left) were where we were taken to. In its current state, it looks like someone just stumbled across a beach; it would be cute if it weren’t for the scale of the city: this is just 10% of the full thing. The rest of the land reclamation will take another 2 1/2 years.

    (Land reclamation, for those not in the know, is the process of excavating sand from the sea and by dumping massive amounts of it directly onto the seabed. Here it’s done by a process called rainbow dredging: a ship called the dredger collects slurry – sand mixed with water – which then stored on the ship and transported to the site. A dredger can eject the slurry in massive arcs to where it needs to go, like a torrential vomit of several tons of sand and water).

    Where we stood, it was about 8 metres to the seabed. Out towards the Port City’s planned edges, nearer to the lighthouse, it was around 22 metres. A breakwater, 5.5 km in length, will run around all of the city. I was told it would take between 60 and 70 million cubic meters of sand for Phase I and about 4 million cubic meters of rubble, with the rubble being supplied by 10 local suppliers. The engineers told me that if the suspension was lifted tomorrow, they could have it done in about 30 months. None of this, they insisted, was on schedule any more. Everything that was shown to the public – those high-rise buildings, images of parks and so on – is still far away. Here’s a rough timeline of how all this came to be:

    • 1998: First proposal by a Singaporean Company called CESMA (now Suburna)
    • 2004: Western Megapolis plan submitted by the UNP, with Pettah to be a leisure center with a harbour front (UNP unveils megapolis plan for western region). The project went nowhere.
    • 2011: Beginning of discussions between CCCC and the GoSL Bid submitted to SLFPA (they were very adamant that it was submitted to the part and not the government as a whole). Standing cabinet reviews the bid.
    • 2012: Detailed proposal submitted to SLFPA
    • 2013: EIA done by Moratuwa University.
    • 2014: Cabinet approves key terms (January); Approval given to sign the contract (September)
    Phase II, where investors buy land, move in, and turn the whole thing into the new Colombo, is supposed to be 15 years in the future. We were later shown a map, which we were asked not to photograph because it was not yet finalized. It had residential units marked along the piers and towards the middle, making up about half of the total area.

    Towards Colombo were banks of commercial buildings; near the pagoda were areas allocated for a hospital. There were areas for educational institutes, for a convention center, for watersport parks, 3.5 km of beaches, and a marina in front of the Old Parliament where yachts are supposed to be parked. There’s a body of water down the middle. Buildings will be built (by anyone) under both structural and aesthetic guidelines from a massive development control regulations document. One of my notes from that meeting reads “It looks like it could be pretty, also pretty self-sufficient.”

    I did not see any submarines or docking stations. If they are coming, they certainly aren’t here yet. :lol: The master plan for the City, I was told, was done by Sweco (of Sweden) and audited by Atkins of UK. AECOM (of the US of A) mapped out infrastructure while CBRE mapped out project feasibility. All of these are massive, international companies, so if anyone can cross-check and verify, that would be excellent.




    WHO OWNS US NOW?

    Sri Lanka, as a whole, never saw this contract, and were never told the terms. That, eventually led to the most pressing question for all of us: what law will be applied here? Whose land is this? Is this Sri Lankan or is it Chinese?

    I asked this question from the Sri Lankan engineers, from David, and later, from Lian Thow Ming, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer of CHEC Port City Colombo. They were adamant that it was Sri Lankan law. Any business setting up shop here would have to comply with the laws and edicts of the government of Sri Lanka. And, just as importantly, jurisdiction of the sea area belongs beyond and around the harbour to Sri Lanka. I assume this means that Sri Lankan police will patrol the streets, preventing crime and creating traffic.

    Ming was polite, but irritated. At every stage there was an undercurrent of frustration with the government. I’ll type here what he said:

    “Under the laws of this country, anyone who buys a plot of land owns it. We are not only spending 13 billion dollars for land, but also giving more than half of it to your government to keep for free. […] But we are not even buying land, we are making land. […]We own part of this land. We will sell it to investors to come build here, and we will make a profit. Do you think if we were not doing this under the laws of your country, we would suspend this project? No, we would not. If we were doing this illegally we would not stop building. But your government asks us to stop, so we stop and wait for their word. We are not doing this because we are charitable people, or because we want to occupy part of the country. No company is going to spend 13 billion dollars for nothing. We come for business and profit.

    Some people were arguing that there were tax breaks. Of course. To make this project commercially viable there must be some incentive. If you don’t do the project, nobody generates profit, nobody makes anything. If you do the project, people set up businesses here, businesses make profit and that means more tax money.”

    That actually makes sense if you look at CCCC as a purely commercial entity rather than an extension of China’s government (a very big if, mind you). Because honestly, there’s enough and more people bitching about how Sri Lanka should hurry up and turn into Singapore already, but pride and culture doesn’t buy development: money and trade does.
     
  3. Established_1965

    Established_1965 FULL MEMBER

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    Why do you guys need to invade the sea?? You don't have any land restriction like Singapore?? o_O

    Kind of confused :|
     
  4. haviZsultan

    haviZsultan ELITE MEMBER

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    You didn't call @samv. Samv you seem to have a reputation as the dalit of India and Tutsi of Rwanda amongst your fellow Sri Lankans. You are awarded the title of dalit of sri lanka. :rofl:
     
  5. Azizam

    Azizam BANNED

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    He is irrationally paranoid. He needs time to recover from the election shock. :lol:

    Relocation of businesses/homes will make it more complicated I think.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2015
  6. samv

    samv SENIOR MEMBER

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    Ranil Wickremasinghe and his coterie of good for nothing twats.

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    Remember how Ranil bent over backwards to appease the LTTE even when they were killing our soldiers and intelligence agents? Now he is bending over backwards to please India despite the fact the country armed, trained and funded the Tamil Tigers, refused to have a full defense relationship with us, voted against us at the United Nations and does nothing to stop its fishermen from plundering Sri Lankan resources. This man is not doing any of this for Sri Lanka's interests. China has never been an enemy to Sri Lanka and neither has it interfered politically or militarily in the affairs of the island - unlike India. It's an absolute shame that Sri Lanka is now kow towing to the Indians and trying to turn China into an enemy. To top it all off, Ranil is hosting Modi telling him that he can "visit anywhere in Sri Lanka" as if Sri Lanka is Modi's vassal state to do as he pleases. Is Ranil on the side of Sri Lanka and Sri Lankan interests or on the side of India and Indian interests? His behaviour so far suggests the latter.



    Much better than being a Shia or Christian or Hindu in Pakistan.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2015
  7. Gibbs

    Gibbs SENIOR MEMBER

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    Good to see an article that finally cuts through the media and political fog... Cheers @Azizam
     
  8. Shotgunner51

    Shotgunner51 RETIRED INTL MOD

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    @Azizam

    Nice pic, comprehensive info, great thread! Keep it coming, let's keep an eye on this mega project of SL!
     
  9. haviZsultan

    haviZsultan ELITE MEMBER

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    I was just joking. You are right. Shias Christians and Hindus do have it tough in Pakistan and we have a responsibility to do everything to improve their situation. Much like Sri Lanka has a responsibility towards Tamils.
     
  10. Shotgunner51

    Shotgunner51 RETIRED INTL MOD

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    Yes bro, let's see one credential of China Communications Construction Company Limited (CCCC), Hong Kong International Airport and Asia World Expo Complex, world's most reputable of its kind, built entirely on an artificial island!

    hong-kong-international-airport-aerial.jpg HKG_Hong_Kong_International.jpg
     
  11. Azizam

    Azizam BANNED

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    I totally agree. By the way, meanwhile land filling continues in the port city project.

    What's the point of blaming just him? Look at the moronic comments on the link itself:

    This one even contradicts your rhetoric against current government:

    Naive morons like them make a substantial section of the so-called educated class in Sri Lanaka. It seems as if they live in a whole different universe or it's an indication of utter selfishness in the society They are talking about having their "environment" and "pride" protected while enjoying all the luxuries that an ordinary person in a rural place can't experience.

    If it's up to me, I would line all of them up and deport to some uninhabited island where they can protect the environment and culture as much as they want.