Govt. offers three properties with Beira Lake frontage to CHEC
By Santhush Fernando and Amrith Gunasekara
One of Sri Lanka’ largest infrastructure project developers- China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd. (CHEC), is to venture into the country’s booming hotel sector with the construction of a upmarket hotel close to the emerging port city of Hambantota.
Speaking to Ceylon FT, Deputy Minister of Economic Development Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said that discussions were still ongoing.
“They are very keen to set up a hotel project in between the Udamaththala International Airport and Hambantota city,” the Deputy Minister said.
Although the government had also offered three prime properties with Beira Lake frontage to CHEC, the Chinese giant was more interested in Hambanthota he added.
According a foreign official close to the deal, CHEC is considering whether to go ahead with a US $ 750 million mixed development project in Colombo.
CHEC already has several vital infrastructure projects such as the Ruhunu Magampura Mahinda Rajapaksa International Harbour, the Udamaththala International Airport, segments of the Southern Expressway and the Colombo Outer Circular Highway and the coal unloading jetty at the Norochcholai coal power plant, to its credit.
The deal comes into light following the recent announcement by the government that it has completed negotiations with Sheraton to allocate the land, earlier offered to China National Aero Technology Import and Export Corporation (CATIC).
Recently, the government informed that it had cancelled a US $ 500 million investment deal with CATIC after it refused the sale of beach-front land outright to the state-run Chinese conglomerate as agreed earlier. The CATIC deal was said to be one of the largest foreign investments since the end of the war in 2009.
The opposition United National Party (UNP) raised questions as to why the land for the hotel on the Galle Face seafront grounds was being sold instead of being given on a long-term lease to CATIC. Meanwhile reports revealed that the government was negotiating to give CATIC another property.
China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd. (CHEC) is a world-renowned international contractor that is a subsidiary of China Communications Construction Company Ltd (CCCC). It has 40 overseas branches and offices with business activities covering more than 70 countries and areas. The company is currently employing over 7,000 domestic and international staff to undertake 10 billion USD worth of projects.