Sri Lanka has the potential to take advantage of India’s initiative to shift freight movements from land to sea and serve as a transhipment hub for shipping between the Indian east and west coasts, according to Dr Piyush Raj, Head of Maritime Advisory DNV GL India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
Already Colombo is the largest transhipment hub for the region, known as a low cost, high productivity centre for maritime services, with even information technology services being competitive with India, he said. “Now there’s the port, ship repair and ship building but there is more which can be leveraged,” he told a seminar co-hosted by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Colombo together with DNV GL on Maritime Clusters in Sri Lanka.
The seminar was a part of events to mark the call at Colombo port by the world’s oldest working full-rigged ship, SS Sørlandet, from Norway, which is on a two-year circumnavigation of the world. Sri Lanka has the right ingredients to support maritime cluster development. and could take advantage of the opportunities provided by the growth of neighbouring India which is a fast-growing, major consumption centre, Raj said.
“The Indian government is trying to create clusters, port-led developments. It aims to shift road transport to coastal movements. We must look at the opportunity this brings to Sri Lanka which could mean further large demand for transhipment. Because now you’ll have more cargo. If cargo moves from the Indian west coast to the east, it might go through Sri Lanka. They could use Hambantota or Colombo port as a transhipment hub.”
DNV GL, an international certification body and classification society, last year did a study for a Sri Lankan client and looked closely at the main east-west shipping route and the number of ship movements and found it impressive, Raj said.
He said Colombo port on the west coast of Sri Lanka could serve the Indian subcontinent’s western region and the east coast is strategically located to serve Bangladesh, Myanmar and the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent.
“There’s potential for the development of major clusters and maritime services. There’s more than one location in Sri Lanka. Colombo is the obvious one but there are others which have promise for development as maritime clusters.”
Meanwhile, Norway has identified four sectors in Sri Lanka for further development cooperation. The four key areas include maritime, fishing, alternative energy and IT.
(Sunday Observer - 30102016)