Govt. green-lights PPP for Port City tunnel link

  • CHEC Port City Colombo to get first dibs on contract for BOT
  • Tunnel to link country’s road network with Chinese built Port City, connecting Airport Highway to Marine Drive
  • Feasibility studies have already commenced sponsored by CHEC Port City Colombo
  • MOU to be signed with CHEC Port City Colombo and Megapolis Ministry to ensure exclusivity of company when project is awarded

The Government has green-lighted a proposal by the Ministry of Megapolis and Western Development to enter into a public-private partnership (PPP) with Port City developer CHEC Port City Colombo Ltd. to build a tunnel linking the road network of the mainland and an artificial island.

A proposal presented by Minister Champika Ranwaka seeking approval to enter into a PPP to carry out the underground Marine Drive extension work with the developer, a subsidiary of China Harbour Engineering Company managed by State-owned China Communication Construction Company Ltd. (CCCC) Group, was approved by Cabinet, Cabinet Co-Spokesperson Gayantha Karunathilaka told journalists yesterday.

Ranawaka has informed Cabinet in his proposal that the tunnel will contribute to Colombo “by way of a North-South link connecting the Airport Highway to Marine Drive, while increasing the width of the Galle Face Green without disturbing the heritage buildings of the Old Parliament Building, Galle Face Hotel building, etc.”

Further, the Minister envisaged that the tunnel can also provide an underground road connection to the Shangri-la Hotel area.

The proposal to set up the PPP comes as a result of a request made by the Ministry of Megapolis and Western Development for a proposal on a Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis for undertaking the required studies and financing of the construction of the underground Marine Drive Extension Project from Chaithya Road to Marine Drive near Kollupitiya Railway Station, with access to the Port City.

In response the company has informed the Ministry that it would be willing to “consider sponsoring the technical feasibility study cost of the Marine Drive Extension up to the tunnel’s connection point” provided that the company is given first preference in the undertaking, Ranawaka informed Cabinet in his proposal.

The company has already commenced technical feasibility studies on the project, while the Road Development Authority (RDA) has started an Environmental Impact Assessment as well.

However, the company has now requested to sign a Memorandum of Understanding in order to justify the costs to its principals and to ensure that the Government will evaluate and negotiate the PPP project on an exclusive basis, Minister Ranawaka noted.

As the Ministry of Megapolis and Western Development has already sent the company a request for a proposal, the project will be considered a solicited proposal, the Minister stated. The signed MOU will outline that the project company be granted exclusivity or first right of refusal subject to negotiations to give confidence to the project company to undertake further investments in the underground Marine Drive Extension Project.

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