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 Harbour Pilots familiarize themselves with maneuvering vessels into and out of the Magam Ruhunupura Mahinda Rajapaksa Port

The mega container vessel 'Wan Hai 502' entering  Magam Ruhunupura Mahinda Rajapaksa Port for Pilot Maneuvering on the 28th April 2011


During the official visit of His Excellency the President Mahinda Rajapaksa, to China in 2007, to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of bilateral relations between the People's Republic of China and the Sri Lanka, special negotiations were conducted with the Chinese President His Excellency Hu Jintao with a view to obtaining financial assistance to construct Hambantota Harbour. The Chinese Government agreed to provide 85% of the estimated cost of 360 million US$ for the construction of Hambantota Harbour, under a special loan scheme. Subsequently, the Signing of Financial Agreement for the Hambantota Port Development Project was held on the 30th October 2007, at the Temple Trees under the patronage of His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa, the  President Sri Lanka. The constructions commenced on the 15th of January 2008. 

The feasibility study for the construction of Magam Ruhunupura Port was carried out by M/s. SNC Lavolis Canadian International Company and the basic designs were prepared by the Denmark Rambol Company in the year 2005.  

Under Stage - I,  the West Breakwater of 988 m, the East Breakwater of 312 m, a ships terminal of 600m, a service terminal           of 105 m, an oil terminal of 610 m, a ships turning circle of 600 m were constructed with a basin draught of 17 m, and a Port Access Canal having a width of 210 m and a draught of 17m. The deepened land area in  stage I -is 43 ha. enabling to  facilitate 100,000 DWT capacity ships.  

Meanwhile, the construction of a Fuel Terminal at the Port was commenced on the 07th October 2009 by the China Huanqiu Contracting and Engineering Corporation with a cost of US $ 76 million. Under the project 14 tank farms are being constructed with a  full capacity of 80,000 m3. Among   them,  08 tanks will be dedicated for ships oil while 03 for aircraft oil and another three for L.P.gas. The Administrative Building at the site commenced constructions on 07.10.2009 and the constructions are being carried out by the same China Harbour Engineering and Syno Hydro Co-operation joint venture. The building consists of 15 stories including a total a total floor area of 100,000 sq. ft. and with a height of  200 ft. 

As the Port of Magam Ruhunupura was developed as an environmentally-friendly Port from the initial stages, there have not been any environmental issues which many development projects may have to undergo.  The Garden Port concept which many countries follow is utilized to join the complex mechanism process and the environment, and it creates a conducive climate for employees. 

 With the completion of stage one of the project, 'Karadiyawara Mangalaya', the Sea water filling Ceremony of Magam Ruhunupura Port took place on the 15th August 2010 under the supervision of the  Chairman of Sri Lanka Ports Authority Dr. Priyath B. Wickrama on the instructions of Hon. Chamal Rajapaksa the present Speaker and the M.P. for Hambantota District and under the guidance of His Excellency the President Mahinda Rajapaksa.  

Turning a new chapter in the country's socio-economic development, the first stage of the Magam Ruhunupura Mahinda Rajapaksa Port was commissioned by His Excellency the President Mahinda Rajapaksa on 18th November 2010 with the arrival of the vessel 'Jet-Liner' followed by a sailing ship and a cargo ship the m.v."Seruwila” symbolizing  the commencement of commercial operations in the Magam Ruhunupura Mahinda Rajapaksa Port in Hambantota.  

Following the commissioning,  the Mahinda Rajapaksa Port in Magam Ruhunupura also received ISPS Certification as per the IMO recommendation and the UN Locator Code ‘LKHBA’ has also been allocated. Despite several misleading reports published in few print media on the port's inability to accommodate vessels, the above certifications assured the port as an eligible and a safe port for operations.  

As the infrastructure and other facilities being constructed at the port for efficient operations are nearing completion rapidly, the  first Large container vessel  called at the Mahinda Rajapaksa Port, on the 28th of April 2011 for the Harbour Pilots to familiarize themselves with maneuvering vessels into and out of the Port. This Mega Container vessel “Wan Hai 502” owned by M/s Wan Hai Lines (Pte) Ltd., of Kaohsiung, Taiwan, having a length of 260 meters and heavily laden with containers and drawing a draught of 12.0 meters was on its voyage from Port Kelang Malaysia to Colombo when it stopped over at Magam Ruhunupura. In  the days ahead, several more vessels of different capacities and draughts belonging  to reputed international shipping lines are due to arrive at the port to enable Harbour Pilots to familiarize themselves.  

 Meanwhile, the project committee appointed for the consideration of the request of the investors who are interested for the investments in Magam Ruhunupura Port premises issued 63 applications locally and internationally and 27 investors submitted their proposals for the investments. More than 2000hectares of lands adjoining the harbour will be declared as a special economic and industrial zone to boost industrial and commercial activities.  Out of the 27 investors who expressed interest to commence projects, six investors had bid for cement industry while two had expressed for vehicle assembling and another two for gas. The Project Committee received proposals from three investors for warehousing, two for petro-chemicals and one each for sugar refinery, fertilizer and canning. Meanwhile other proposals have also  been brought out to commence various relevant industries of importance and all investors have been identified as  reputed and leading business ventures and entrepreneurs in and out of the country. 

Since the  inception of container operations at the Port of Colombo, it  took about 20 years to handle a capacity of 2 million TEUs. Hence, in the year 2004, the Port of Colombo handled  2 million TEUs of containers which has grown to 4 million TEUs by 2010.  The total is expected to be 10 million TEUs by 2020, when the port will generate 40% of the Government income. Last year,  the state-run JCT of SLPA also single-handedly reached a historic  record throughput of 2 million TEUs in eleven months. The above fact clearly shows the length of time factor that is needed by any project or programme in order to emerge as a reliable and strong economic venture. Accordingly, with the time being managed efficiently and correctly with the correct development strategies, Mahinda Rjapaksa Port in Magam Ruhunupura will definitely emerge as a port that not only   feeds the national economy at large, but also as the most important regional port situated in the closest proximity to the international shipping route.

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