The long awaited Lotus Tower was finally commissioned ceremonially by the President of Sri Lanka yesterday, who told the gathering that the government had saved a huge amount of money for the country which would have been lost due to a controversial project agreement. Further he referred to a controversy that there was no record to date of what happened to an initial deposit of SLR 2 billion Sri Lankan government had paid to a Chinese company; confirms that there is corruption in every project. The original estimated cost of the Lotus Tower was SLR 19 billion and the Chinese Exim Bank had agreed to grant this sum to Sri Lanka. The contract for the construction of the tower was signed on January 3rd 2012 with China National Electronics Import and Export Corporation (CEIEC) being the general contractor, and with the Chinese company and the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC).
The initial design for the Lotus Tower was done in 2008, provided an ideal platform for many engineering students to gain experience. The base circumference is 45 meters and it stands at a height of 356 meters. The main feature of this tower is the transmission tower and the antenna coverage length is around 90 meters. The digital antenna covers a distance of 60 km to the north, 60 km to the South and 50 km to the East and 15 km to the West. This will provide transmission facilities to 20 television stations and 50 FM channels. The construction commenced in 2012 with the Moratuwa University providing the main consultancy services with around 70 engineers.
When the new government came to power in 2015, it carried out investigations that revealed there was no information regarding the Chinese company which was a party that signed the agreement. This was notified to the Chinese Government and thereafter this company was removed from the tri party agreement in November 2017 and as a result the Chinese EXIM Bank suspended the loan facility due to be given to Sri Lanka. Thereafter with Sri Lanka was already paying the SLR 2400 million loan repayment annually, the SLR 16 billion that was scheduled to be granted by EXIM Bank was limited to SLR 12 billion, and Sri Lanka needs to keep paying this sum annually for the next 10 years. The payment for the first half of 2019 amounting to SLR 1200 million has already been paid and it was in such a situation that the TRC invested SLR 4 billion to the Lotus Tower project saving the country a huge amount; yet corruption seems to go unabated in Sri Lanka!