Hub Race

Aug 27, 2008 (LBO) – Tenders for the long-delayed first container terminal in the planned new Colombo south port will be called in the next 2-3 weeks, a senior Sri Lanka Ports Authority engineer said.

“There is a very high demand for the south container terminal,” Kurukulasuriya said.

He said the project was needed to ensure Colombo retains its status as south Asia’s container transhipment hub.

Its status is being challenged by the development of competing ports in the region, especially Indian ports.

The Sri Lankan shipping industry is worried that Indian port modernisation and India’s own ambitions of developing hub ports could threaten Colombo.

Kurukulasuriya said cargo forecasts for Colombo for the next 25-30 years show that the present growth rate is higher than even the highest forecast growth rate.

“We’re reaching our max capacity,” he said. “We need a bigger port, deeper piers, wider yards to handle the new generation of container ships.”

The new south port is several years behind schedule.

The government cancelled bids for the first container terminal earlier this year in a controversial move as it was unable to decide between the two main contenders