Now or Never

Feb 07 (LBO) – Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) chief warned Tuesday that the island would suffer irreversible costs if the south port project does not take off before next year. SLPA Chairman Dileepa Wijesundara told LBO that construction work on Colombo’s South Harbour project would not be delayed, with funding options expected to be finalised within three months.

The south port is the future of Sri Lanka’s shipping industry,” said Wijesundara adding that construction had to begin this year to ensure the first phase is complete by 2009.

Funding options will include market borrowings on the strengths of SLPA’s balance sheet.

The Port’s chief said funding has been the major obstacle to accelerate new infrastructure projects.

Wijesundara said the island’s US$ 20 billion economy is unable to financially back large investments into infrastructure projects like the South Port.

Instead, Sri Lanka has to depend on condition laden international donor money or on expensive market borrowings to finance these projects.

Initial work at the South Port, including a three kilometre breakwater will cost an estimated US$ 300 million.

The Asian