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SLPA Chief, MD meet MSC President in Geneva

Dr.Priyath B.wickrama – Chairman SLPA (second right), Capt.Nihal Keppetipola – Managing Director SLPA (second left), Capt. Gianluigi Aponte, President, Mediterranean Shipping Co. S.A., Geneva, Switzerland,(far right) and Mr. Diego Aponte Group Vice President, MSC (first left)

A high profile team from the Geneva-based Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) visited Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) in July this year and toured all Sri Lankan port-related development project sites including the Mahinda Rajapaksa Port in Hambantota. Having been impressed by the massive progress of these development projects, the team extended an invitation to SLPA for a business tour of Geneva. Following this invitation, the Chairman of SLPA Dr. Priyath B. Wickrama and Managing Director, Capt. Nihal Keppetipola flew to Geneva on 29 September and held discussions with MSC President Capt. Aponte and the Group Vice President Diego Aponte. The discussions ranged from the current productivity of the SLPA, current progress of port development projects and most importantly, the potential of the upcoming new ports in India. At the end of the discussion, MSC has agreed to extend its Terminal Service Agreement (TSA) with the Sri Lanka Ports Authority for two more years. The MSC commenced patronising the Jaya Container Terminal (JCT) of SLPA in December, 2009 on a weekly basis with more than 1800 moves per vessel. The TSA was scheduled to expire on 31 December 2011.

MSC is the world’s second-largest container shipping line, providing an unparalleled service network via dedicated offices throughout the world and remains a truly independent and private company able to respond quickly to market changes and implement long term plans. At the end of September 2011, MSC was operating 457 container vessels with an intake capacity of 2,010,000 TEUs. With a streamlined management structure via Geneva, MSC has become a leading customer focused cost effective global transport solution provider for many a shipper worldwide.
This is a clear endorsement by the liner community, of the current development landscape in the SLPA, undertaken by the present regime under the directives of President Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Minister of Ports and Highways.  The Colombo Port Expansion Project, the biggest ever infrastructure development project undertaken by the SLPA in order to facilitate the increasing demand for container traffic in the region and the Port of Hambantota which is currently taking shape, capitalising the geo-strategic advantage of its closeness to the main east-west shipping route, have largely contributed towards the customer attraction.

The MSC has also shown its interest in the Colombo Port Expansion Project and the 3rd phase of the Hambantota Port Development project which will cater to container handling. They had also discussed about becoming an equity partner in the port development projects in Sri Lanka. On their return, the Chairman and the Managing Director revealed to the press that there will be a strong consolidation of MSC operations via ports in Sri Lanka in the future. Meanwhile the industry sources commended the efforts taken by SLPA to secure the maritime hub status in the region by offering a service that none can match in the region.

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