Coastal Shipping

Nov 27, 2007 (LBO) – Ceylon Shipping Corporation plans to buy two cargo ships using an Iranian credit line to be negotiated during Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse’s current visit there. The ships are required to keep the northern Jaffna peninsula supplied with essential goods as the land route is controlled by the Tamil Tigers.

Presently, Jaffna is supplied by a small fleet of cargo vessels, some chartered by the Commissioner General of Essential Services and others operated by the private sector.

If the CSC manages to get two vessels these could be chartered to the CGES which now relies partly on foreign-owned vessels whose charter rates are high.

Cabinet approval has already been obtained for the CSC to acquire two vessels, CSC officials said.

But no government funds have been allocated to the CSC for the purchase, hence the need to borrow money.

“So we’re looking for means to find the money. We want to see whether we can get a loan from Iran to fund the purchase of the ships,” a senior CSC official said.

The CSC chairman is a member of the Sri Lankan delegation now visiting Iran and he is expected to sign an agreement for the credit line if the terms