The China Port City Project has run into storm again over disagreements on the Free Hold acreage as Colombo wants to move amendments to the original agreement on that provision, authoritative sources told the Nation.
This obstacle would further delay the recommencement of the project at least by 10 months combined with weather concerns.
According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake had recently said that the Sri Lankan Government had urged the Chinese company to agree to a change in provision of freehold land into leasehold land to enable the project to resume.
However, when inquired, a spokesperson for the company in Sri Lanka stated that no agreements were reached with the government on changes to provisions. “We are currently discussing various issues with regards to the contract, but nowhere near an agreement on anything,” the spokesperson said.
Under the initial agreement, the China Harbor Engineering Company Ltd (CHEC) would reclaim 233 hectares off Colombo coast. It would keep 108 hectares, including 20 hectares on a freehold basis and the rest on a 99-year lease. The spokesperson added that there was no change in the agreement whatsoever.
Initial reports indicated that the project would kick off in February next year. However, the CHEC last week claimed that the South West monsoon would delay the recommencement till October next year.
“The south west monsoon season starts in April making it difficult for us to construct the breakwater. What this all means is that while we may be able to do some minor work once we are allowed to recommence, we do not foresee work going on full steam until Sept/Oct,” the official said.