The government will fast-track the delayed development work on the East Container Terminal (ECT) of the Colombo port, Ports and Shipping Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe told an audience of logistics and transport professionals in Colombo, last Friday.
“It is a shame that we have wasted two years in not developing the East terminal. As you know the previous government went through a tender process and Cabinet approval was also received. It was a question of implementing it.
When this government came into power it was put on hold; we were not able to start the development that was needed so that the East Terminal could be made use of,” Samarasinghe told a panel discussion organized by the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT).
The first phase of the East Terminal kicked off in 2015. The total length of the East Terminal is 1200 metres. The construction of a 400-metre stretch of the terminal has already been completed.
Samarasinghe said Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) during these two years had lost approximately Rs.4 billion due to the delay in completing the ECT.
“This is the money that could have been earned by the Ports Authority easily. This estimation was given to me by them. I’m the minister responsible and as such I will always express my point of view. Finally it is up to the government and the Cabinet ministers to take a collective decision.
I have instructed the SLPA Chairman and the board to give thought to this and come up with a strategy giving priority for this development of the East Terminal,” he said. The second deep water terminal in the Colombo port expansion project is the East Container Terminal. The terminal has been planned as a joint venture project with a shipping line or a private terminal operator with 51 percent of equity owned by the SLPA.
At present, Colombo Port has only one deep draft terminal, namely Colombo International Container Terminal (CICT), with a depth of 18 metres and capacity of 2.4 million TEUs. Earlier, Ceylon Association of Shipping Agents (CASA) had voiced their concerns over the delay of the construction of the ECT, noting that it would result in investors and container volumes shifting to regional ports.
They also had stressed that if Sri Lanka is serious about maintaining its transshipment shipping hub status and expanding its position to be the regional maritime hub, it’s paramount to expedite the ECT project in a transparent manner.
(Daily Mirror - 03072017)