Navigation Move

Nov 05, 2009 (LBO) – Colombo port has re-opened its northern entrance channel which had been closed for years owing to the threat of attacks by Tamil Tiger separatists who were defeated by government forces in May. But it had been completely closed since the airport attack.

The Tamil separatists’ naval wing, the Sea Tigers, had bases on the north-west coast which posed a threat to the port.

Government forces crushed the Tamil Tigers in May after a lengthy campaign, ending a 30-year ethnic war, and raising hopes of an economic revival in the island. The move will speed up the movement of ships calling at the port, south Asia’s transhipment hub, Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) chairman Priyath Bandu Wickrama told reporters.

He said the re-opening of a second channel for ships would improve productivity in the port and reduce navigation delays.

An Indian container vessel, Lal Bahadur Shastri, was the first ship to leave the port after the northern entrance was reopened Thursday morning.

The northern channel has been closed since July 2001, after the Tamil Tigers staged an audacious attack on the international airport in Katunayake, just north of Colombo, destroying half the fleet of the na