Sri Lanka’s government will make the East terminal of the Colombo Port operational within three months. “Within the next 3-months the business community can have hope,” Sri Lanka Ports Authority Chairman Daya Ratnayake said.
In his election mnifesto setting out his plans for the years 2020-2025 President Gotabaya Rajapaksa prioritized the development of the East Container Terminal. The government said it plans to double the container handling capacity at the Colombo Port. “We have the capacity to develop the Western Terminal which we will focus on next,” said Ratnayake.
The 2020-2025 policy document said Sri Lanka will attract private investment into a planned West container terminal and study the feasibility of a ‘cross-berth’ terminal between two existing terminals. “Subsequently we will explore the cruise business in the ports,” Ratnayake said.
“This is a gold mine for Sri Lanka which has not being exploited to its full capacity,” he added. Under the last administration, development of the terminal with private investors was abandoned despite top global shipping lines expressing interest. “After the Eastern terminal was built, other constructions were stopped and as a result, we lost enormous revenue which no one has calculated,” Ratnayake said.
The Chairman said with all the inconveniences, the ports generated 51 billion rupees in revenue last year. “We are not being competitive or achieving our potential because of inconsistency, guidelines or a proper plan,” he said. Colombo International Container Terminals (CICT), a terminal controlled by China said its volumes had grown 322 percent over the past five years, from 686,639 TEUs handled in its first year in 2014.
In 2019, CICT handled 2.9 million containers at Sri Lanka’s Colombo Port.