Slow Going

Feb 08, 2008 (LBO) – A multi-million dollar project to build a new container port in Colombo is on track despite lengthy delays, a Sri Lankan government minister has assured the island’s shipping community. The government plans to build a new deep-water port next to Colombo, called the Colombo South Port, as well as build a new port in southern Hambantota, even closer to the shipping route which runs around the island’s south coast.

Construction work has already begun on the Hambantota port with Chinese funds, leading to doubts in the local shipping community whether the new Colombo South Port, urgently required to expand capacity to meet surging cargo volumes, was being given the priority it deserves.

Hambantota is one of the island’s most neglected districts where unemployment and poverty levels are high. It is also the home of the country’s president, Mahinda Rajapakse.

“Even though there may be doubts that the South Port is not moving fast enough, the government wants to develop both ports,” justice minister Dylan Perera told the forum organised by the Company of Master Mariners with the support of the Nautical Institute.

“It’s not that the South Port has been stopped and Hambantota i