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SLPA to tap into cargo containerization

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The Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA), with an investment of more than USD1.2 billion from public funds and another USD500 million from private investments towards port development projects, will help to attract increased cargo containerization.

SLPA Chairman, Dr. Priyath Bandu Wickrama, said that although large scale port development projects were underway in India, he pointed out that India’s cargo containerization is even less than 20% and Sri Lanka’s containerization is still in its infancy.

“Thus, potential for containerization is vast in our country,” the Chairman said, adding that the SLPA has no doubt about attracting more cargo volumes on the completion of its projects. Dr. Wickrama made these comments while addressing the 28th Annual General Meeting of the Sri Lanka Freight Forwarders Association. He said that the SLPA’s intention is to develop the entire country as a logistics hub. “Our vision is to consolidate Sri Lanka as the premier maritime logistics centre of the Asian region. This can best be achieved by teaming together government, industry and the best minds in trade”. Despite challenges and competition in the in the Asian region, the Chairman said that country was able to achieve a 9% container volume increase in 2008. The Chairman of the SLPA added the SLPA had started most of its scheduled activities of the 3-year port development plan, which was presented at his appointment.

The Chairman highlighted that the SLPA’s development strategy was modeled on the ‘Logistic Performance Index’ in order to reach an optimal throughput. The Logistic Performance Index is measured by customs procedures, logistics costs, infrastructure quality, the ability to track and trace shipments, timeliness in reaching destinations, and the competence of the domestic logistics industry.

According Dr. Wickrama the construction of the Breakwater which would be almost 6km in length commenced in April 2008 at a total cost of US$345 million. He said the Request for Proposals for the first terminal, namely the South Terminal is scheduled to be evaluated within the next few months. The new terminal with a rated capacity of 2.4 million TEUs will consist of a quay that would be 1,200 metres in length and capable of handling not only the largest container vessel in service but even the largest on the drawing boards.

Outlining the construction of the Port of Hambantota, Dr. Wickrama said that the first vessel is expected to be berthed by December 2010. “This Port will, in its first stage, consist of a 600 metre multi-purpose berth and a tanker berth capable of berthing 100,000 dead weight tankers,” he said, adding the berth will be connected to a tank farm with a capacity of 80,000 tons with loading arms. “The business plan includes leasing out space for a shipyard, cement, fertilizer plants, a warehousing complex, space for the operation of a LP gas terminal and ample parking space for vehicles to tap the

transhipment trade” he added. The Chairman noted that the SLPA is considering the implementation of “Free Port Concept” initially at Hambantota and at all other ports in the future.

In addition, the regional Port of Oluvil is also being constructed with the construction contract already awarded. The Port of Kankesanthurai will also be cleared of old wrecks and be in operation in the near future according to Dr. Wickrama.

 “We are not only looking at Port development. In fact a cargo village consisting of about 25 acres will be set up by the SLPA at Bloemendhall,” Dr. Wickrama said noting that its functions such as LCL, MCC and Entreport will be shifted to this location. He stressed that the challenge is to freight forwarding sector to make Sri Lanka a logistics hub. “The infrastructure will be in place and now you should step in and exploit it,” Dr. Wickrama said addressing the gathering. The Chairman added that the state has done its avowed duty by creating a peaceful and unified country. Now it is your turn to capitalize”.

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