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A look back at China's infrastructure projects aiding Sri Lanka

By Sugath Rathnayake | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2021-02-09 13:44

Workers unload low sulfur fuel oil from the Kaige tanker at the port of Hambantota in Sri Lanka in April. [Photo: Xinhua]

The Hambantota Port Project is another major project implemented under the Chinese loan scheme. Opened on Nov 18, 2010, it has three berths. This port is considered to be the first inland port in the world. The first phase of the investment is $361 million, of which 85 percent was provided by EXIM Bank of China. The Port of Hambantota is a public-private partnership between the Sri Lanka Ports Authority and China Merchant Port Holdings. The company owns 69.55 percent of the port, and 30.45 percent of the shares are owned by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority. This is on a 99-year lease and all shares can be purchased by the Ports Authority after 70 years. Hambantota Port Project is part of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

Mattala International Airport. [Photos Provided to China Daily]

Mattala International Airport is also a project funded by the Chinese government. Opened in 2013, it is the second international airport in Sri Lanka. China Harbor Engineering Company has carried out its construction and EXIM Bank of China has provided $190 million loan. It even has the latest aircraft landing facilities. Aimed to be used for both foreign and domestic flights, it connects to the Port of Hambantota and facilitates cargo handling and transportation.

A worker holds onto shelter as rain falls on the construction site of project Section 3 of the Extension of the Southern Expressway in Sri Lanka on Sept 23, 2018. [Photo by Li Ping/chinadaily.com.cn]

The Colombo-Matara Expressway is another project implemented under a Chinese government loan. It is the first type E road built in Sri Lanka. The 126-kilometer-long road connects Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka and Matara, one of the most important cities in the south of the island. It takes about four hours to travel from Colombo to Matara by normal roads but using the expressway can shorten the journey to within less than two hours. The Colombo Outer Circular Highway will be connected to the first section of this expressway and the road will be extended to Hambantota. The EXIM Bank of China has also provided a loan of $180 million to extend the road to Hambantota.

China has also provided a loan of $989 million for the Central Expressway project. This expressway will connect Hambantota Port, Katunayake International Airport and Kandy. This is the largest loan provided by the EXIM Bank of China to Sri Lanka, according to the Ministry of Finance. The estimated cost of the project is $1.16 billion. About 85 percent of the loans will be from China.

The Norochcholai coal power plant project is also being implemented on Chinese loans. [Photo: Xinhua]

The Norochcholai coal power plant project is also being implemented on Chinese loans. This is the first coal power plant built in Sri Lanka. This power plant consists of three units generating 300 megawatts each. Chinese engineers were in charge of its construction. The main contractor for the project was the Chinese Mechanical Engineering Corporation. The project was funded by the EXIM Bank of China and is wholly owned by the Ceylon Electricity Board. The coal required for the plant comes from Russia, Indonesia and South Africa. The total power generation capacity of 900 MW generated by this power plant is connected to the national grid from Anuradhapura and Veyangoda through high voltage transmission lines. The first phase was inaugurated on March 22, 2011.

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