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Hub Race

Aug 15, 2008 (LBO) - Sri Lanka's hub port of Colombo is facing growing competition from other harbours in the region which are being built up to grab a bigger share of India's increasing trade, industry officials said. The latest threat comes from the south Indian port of Chennai which has just called for fresh bids to build a new deep-water container terminal.

The proposed 'mega' box terminal project is projected to handle four million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units or containers) a year with construction work expected to start in the next 2-3 years.

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The estimated the cost of the terminal is around 750-760 million dollars and it will be developed on a build-operate-transfer basis under a 30-year concession, Indian news reports said.

They quoted officials at Chennai Port as saying that the project is in line with its long held plans for Chennai to become the container hub of the Indian east coast.

Chennai's existing container facility run by Dubai Ports World handled 885,000 TEUs during 2006-07 with volumes rising by 20 percent a year.

Sri Lankan shipping industry officials said plans by India to develop its own ports could threaten Colombo's prospects as it is already years behind schedul

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