Cargo to and from India accounts for 62 per cent of Colombo port’s transshipment business, according to Priyath Bandu Wickrama, chairman of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA).
At present, Colombo is handling 16 per cent of India’s transshipment of 10 million TEU, but it hopes to increase it to 23 per cent, given the port’s expansion plans, he told foreign correspondents stationed here.
The new port coming up on the southern side of the existing harbour will increase Colombo’s capacity by 40 per cent. The new port is being constructed by China Merchant Holding, Hyundai Engineering and Construction, and DY Engineering of South Korea.
Hambantota port has a bright future given its location bang on the busy Asia-Europe shipping route. “Hambantota is, and will be a 100 per cent commercial port,” the chairman said to a question as to whether it could become a Chinese naval base.
The new port will have three container terminals with a total land area of 200 hectares. Each terminal will be 480 metres long. The harbour’s depth will be 18 metres.
The first terminal is to be completed by April 2014. The new port can accommodate 18,000 TEU vessels.
‘India No Challenge’
Wickrama said that Indian ports could not be a challenge to Colombo port because the latter had the advantage of having a better location. Colombo port is deeper than any port in India, and can therefore accommodate bigger vessels.
Colombo hopes to gain from the expanding Indian economy and the increase in its international trade. “It’s a win-win situation,” Wickrama said.