Ports, Shipping and Southern Development Minister Sagala Ratnayaka yesterday assured that all maritime development plans will be accelerated, while outlining some of the key projects in progress.
“I assure that no plans of the ports and shipping sector will be delayed. I will take the right decisions and move forward. It is imperative that we move ahead with the development of the port of Colombo, otherwise we will lose out on business and we don’t want that to happen. We have already delayed too much, so I don’t want to be stuck in that situation any longer,” he told journalists, meeting the press for the first time after assuming duties at the Ministry.
He believes that the SLPA master plan supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) would lay a robust foundation for the ports and maritime sector’s development until 2050.
“We had a lengthy meeting with the ADB officials on Wednesday regarding the SLPA master plan, and its proposals for all the ports in the country. It is a comprehensive program that will serve as a roadmap for the sector’s growth. These studies have been conducted technically by specialists who have worked on it and proposed to us a few models that could be implemented till 2050. We are still having discussions with the ADB, and soon we will review and execute plans accordingly,” the Minister said.
Underscoring some of the key developments in progress, Ratnayaka emphasised that they were also in the process of deciding the course of action on the much-talked-about East Container Terminal (ECT) in the port of Colombo.
“I have requested the Ministry Secretary and the SLPA to present their observations on the matter. They will have to evaluate if it is financially viable for the SLPA to invest in the ECT project alone, or if it should require a partnership with an external party. Based on their recommendation, I will discuss the matter with the President, Prime Minister and the Cabinet,” he added.
He also said that they were conducting a technical evaluation to further expand CICT without distracting the developments of the West Container Terminal of the Colombo port, where they hope to set up an LNG plant.
“We will build all these terminals based on the demand we have as well as on the capital involved to develop them,” he pointed out.
When asked about India’s involvement on Sri Lanka’s port industry, the Minister said the level of their involvement is still being discussed.
“The Indian Government has shown keen interest in Sri Lanka’s shipping industry and in assisting us. They (Indian Government) don’t want to go into any major stake anywhere, but they want to be involved. What that involvement has to now be finalised. The two Prime Ministers have discussed at a very high level, but we have to finalise those. I am still not aware of any final agreement,” Ratnayaka stressed.
In terms of Kankesanthurai port development project, which is being developed with a $44 million credit line from India, the Minister said it will be developed into three piers where two will be for commercial purposes and the other for Sri Lanka Navy.
He said the Ministry intends to fast-track the Kankesanthurai port development project and appoint consultants by July.
In addition, Ratnayaka also highlighted that ports of Trincomalee and Galle will be developed to have night navigation before the end of this year.
“New infrastructure and radar systems will soon be set up to make night navigation possible at Trincomalee harbour, with the financial assistance of one billion yen from Japan, which will be completed by the first half of this year. The SLPA will invest its own funding to install night navigation at the Galle harbour by August,” he said.
Ratnayaka said he was yet to study and review the Hambantota port development activities, which involves a joint venture agreement with China.
The Minister also launched a maritime news website initiated by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) (news.slpa.lk) to disseminate up-to-date information on the ports and shipping sector, in a move to strengthen Sri Lanka’s image in the global maritime sector.Source at: Daily FT