Port Moves

Oct 06, 2008 (LBO) – The Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) intends to build and operate a container terminal in the planned new deep-draft port being built next to Colombo’s existing harbour, its acting chairman Priyath Bandu Wickrema said. The project team and cabinet-appointed negotiating committee had finalised the fresh bid document for the new Colombo port which was now being examined by the attorney-general, the top government legal officer.

The shipping industry has expressed fears that the repeated delays in building the new port to handle newer and biggest ships could cause Colombo to lose business.

Wickrema said he disagreed with the idea that the SLPA should not be running any new terminals in the planned new port and rejected criticism that productivity was poor at the existing terminals because they were state run and overstaffed.

“We have the skills to do designing and dredging,” said Wickrema. “We’re capable enough to build and operate one terminal.”

He said they also had the option of tying up with a foreign party.

Wickrema said efficiency at the state-run container terminals was adequate although it was hampered by aging machinery like cranes which are being replaced.

“Our workers can do a goo