29 Oct, 2019
John Keells Holdings PLC (JKH) renewed its 16-year public-private partnership with Sri Lanka Railways for the refurbishment and maintenance of the Kompannavidiya Railway Station. A renewal agreement in this regard was signed on 29th July 2019 between General Manager, Sri Lanka Railways, Mr. M.J. D. Fernando, and JKH represented by Mr. Gihan Cooray, Deputy Chairman and Group Finance Director and Ms. Nadija Tambiah, Secretaries.
Situated in the hub of commercial activity, the 1878 Kompannavidiya Railway Station, also known as Slave Island Railway Station, stands on Justice Akbar Mawatha as one of the oldest legacies of Sri Lanka’s British heritage. Continuing to boast its cast-iron corrugated roofs and wide verandahs enabling greater airflow typical of the era as well as stylish arches, intricate woodwork, neo-modern metal installations and the signature mixing of iron and stone as a striking example of refined technology, the Railway Station remains an emblem of Victorian art.
Slave Island got its name during the British occupation and originates from the Portuguese and Dutch periods of administration when slaves, mostly African, were brought here. Since then, the area has evolved into a commercial locale with business establishments, hotels and eating houses, making it a central Railway Station location. Premises of JKH subsidiary, Ceylon Cold Stores PLC, and other old warehouses of the 19th century were in its immediate exterior. A century later, the JKH Head Office complex too came upon the parallel street known as Glennie Street whilst the 21st century has seen the area become a hub of development.
In 2002, JKH first stepped into refurbishing and maintaining the Kompannavidiya Railway Station, while preserving its colonial architectural value. Initiated as a key community development venture in the immediate neighborhood, the project aimed at restoring the railway station to its original splendor while enabling modern facilities to compliment the age-old architecture by refurbishing and modernizing the level crossing, bridge and other amenities within the station. Towards enabling the station to be clean and user-friendly for the thousands of commuters who use it, JKH funds daily maintenance of the station. Project work – including all repairs and routine maintenance of the building and service areas, maintenance and greening of the garden, reconstruction of the overhead bridge with additional roofs to the two sides, repairing and painting of benches and interior beautification, refurbishment of the ceiling at the main entrance / ticket counter – is sponsored and implemented by John Keells Property under the guidance of Sri Lanka Railways and in collaboration with John Keells Foundation. It was reported that the Slave Island Railway project benefitted 703,514 commuters during the 2018/19 financial year.
Although JKH Head Office complex was relocated to Sir Chittampalam A. Gardiner Mawatha in 2013 the Group continues to have proximity to the Kompannavidiya Railway Station via Cinnamon Life, the first premier real estate development of its kind in Sri Lanka. A “city within a city”, this iconic project will on completion redefine Colombo’s skyline whilst making its mark as Colombo’s lifestyle capital with its proposed 800 roomed five-star Cinnamon Hotel, shopping mall, convention centre, state-of-the-art 30 storey office tower, multi-purpose entertainment venues, restaurants and 427 premium residential apartments.