Port of Colombo handles record-breaking seven millionth TEU

Daily FT

01/01/2019

Port of Colombo handles record-breaking seven millionth TEU

Marking a major milestone, the Port of Colombo handled its seven millionth TEU yesterday, 31 December.

A special function was held at the Jaya Container Terminal (JCT) of Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) to celebrate the handling of the seven million mark. The function was attended by Minister of Ports, Shipping and Southern Development Sagala Rathnayake and Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Southern Development Secretary and Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) Chairman Dr. Parakrama Dissanayake. 

Top officials of all three main terminals – JCT, South Asia Gateway Terminal (SAGT) and Colombo International Container Terminal (CICT) – of the Port of Colombo also attended the event. The seven millionth TEU was brought by MV CPO Hamburg of the MSC Line.

Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Southern Development Secretary and SLPA Chairman Dr. Dissanayake speaking at the occasion stated that the achievement was primarily possible because of the clientele of the Port of Colombo. He thanked the management and staff of JCT, SAGT, CICT, pilots and the navigational staff, all employees, trade unions, and also the former minister and the ministerial staff for their enormous contributions.

“The Port of Colombo, having handled one million TEUs in 1995, took nine years to handle two million TEUs in 2004. Having handled four million TEUs in 2010, it took five years to handle five million TEUs in 2015. In the year 2017, the port handled six million TEUS and it took two years to handle that extra million. But what is unique is that this year, the Port of Colombo handled seven million TEUs and that one million took only one year. By the end of this year the transhipment volumes of the Port of Colombo has increased by 19.3%,” the Secretary said.

Dr. Dissanayake also stated that in moving forward, the present need to increase the capacity, change in the competition dynamics between the ports competing with the Port of Colombo, understanding and acting according to changes taking place within the shipping lines and the shipping industry should be strategically addressed in time.

Minister Rathnayake speaking at the occasion stated that helping to establish democracy was absolutely essential to build and grow industries like this. “If there is no confidence in the Judiciary and if there is no confidence in the institutions, these industries cannot grow as then there would be no confidence in the country,” he said.

He also stressed that the present Government was working towards having policies in place to capitalise on that situation as well as country’s location. He further said that the Government was also working on an appropriate and comprehensive marketing policy for the entire shipping industry of Sri Lanka. The Minister thanked everyone for their enormous contribution towards achieving this target.

SLPA Managing Director Capt. Athula Hewavitharana, SLPA Additional Managing Director Upali De Zoysa, SLPA Director Operations Jayantha Perera, SAGT CEO Romesh David, CICT Chief Financial Officer Raymond Mu, a number of directors and highest level management officials of SLPA and a number of representatives from the shipping industry were also present at the occasion. 

The Port of Colombo is ranked as world’s No. 01 container growth port among the top 30 container ports for the first half of 2018. In container handling, Port of Colombo has recorded a 15.6% growth for the first half of 2018 over the same period last year according to Alphaliner Monthly 2018. It is also a significant achievement as it is the first time in history the Port of Colombo reached the top of a global maritime ranking. With this growth, Port of Colombo has leapt ahead many other Asian ports and major European ports and Dubai as well.

The Port of Colombo handled seven million containers with joint marketing strategies by the three terminals, JCT, SAGT and CICT. The three terminal operators early this year reached into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to operate collectively to promote the Port of Colombo. 

Under the new collective agreement, it was expected to minimise the waiting time of all container vessels outside the port waters by allowing operations of vessels at the immediately available terminal. Further, through this agreement, terminals are also able to promote the Port of Colombo collectively and collaboratively in the arena of international maritime business.

The SLPA was awarded the Ports Authority of the Year 2018 Award by the Global Ports Forum (GPF). The fourth GPF awards ceremony, followed by the conference forum, was held in February 2018 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

The Port of Colombo marked the operation of its first TEU in the year of 1973. Accordingly, the constructions of SLPA-controlled JCT’s stage I was completed in 1985. The completion of stage II of the JCT in 1987 and stages III and IV in 1995 and 1996 respectively marked the increase of operation volumes of the Port of Colombo. Commencement of the SAGT at the Port of Colombo took place in 1999 and the CICT was built in 2012.

With the rapid development of port infrastructure including the construction of new terminals and the Public-Private Partnership in operations at the Port of Colombo, the TEU handling capacity at the port has dramatically increased during minimum lapses of time period after 2004.

Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) signed its first Public-Private Partnership (PPP) agreement with the South Asia Gateway Terminal (SAGT) in 1999 for 30 years that brought an investment of $ 220 million to date. Under the agreement, the SAGT owned 85% of shares locally and internationally whilst the SLPA owned 15%.

The next PPP agreement by SLPA for terminal operation was with the CICT in 2013 for 35 years that brought an investment of $ 550 million to the Sri Lankan port sector. The agreement took the same course to claim 85% of shares by the CICT and the rest by SLPA. 

The Jaya Container Terminal (JCT) that occupies a 100% ownership by SLPA is operated as the main State-owned terminal. Although it showed a negative growth in 2016, with the accelerated procedures to increase efficiency, the terminal reached a 15% growth against 2017, handling 2.3 million TEUs by end 2018. The JCT has also recorded an increase of 23.3% transhipment volumes.

The Port of Colombo marked the achievements of operating one million TEUs in 1995. Although it took almost nine years to reach the mark of two million TEUs collaboratively with the SAGT in 2004, the Port of Colombo marked three million TEUs in 2006, four million TEUs in 2010, five million TEUs collaboratively with the CICT in 2015 and six million TEUs in December 2017.

With the latest initiatives implemented at Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA), all sectors of port operation show a rapid growth compared to similar periods during the past. A number of procedures are currently being implemented in all commercial ports around the country under the purview of SLPA to enhance the vision of the Government to develop Sri Lanka as the maritime hub in the region, optimise strategic location and economic contribution to the country, bring further development to the port sector in Sri Lanka, capacity building, increase port investment opportunities as well as promote T/S, value addition and tourism.

Source at: Daily FT