Sri Lanka to build new container terminal in 2Q: port chief.
Construction of a new deep-water container terminal to be built and run by the private sector in Colombo port is to start in the second quarter of this year, a Sri Lanka port official said. Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) chairman Priyath Wickrama said they were in the final stages of talks with the private investor, a consortium led by China Merchant Holdings which has teamed up with local conglomerate Aitken Spence.
Sri Lanka managed to attract only one bid to design and build the first new container terminal in the new port being built next to the existing harbour, south Asia"s transshipment hub.
The project has been delayed for years.
The new port is needed to expand capacity and handle newer, bigger container ships being deployed on trade routes.
The government is holding talks with the consortium in an effort to enhance the royalty payments to ensure it can repay an Asian Development Bank loan taken to dredge the new port and build a breakwater.
The new port would increase cargo handling capacity with the addition of three more container terminals, an SLPA statement quoted Wickrama as saying at a regional port forum in Bandung, Indonesia earlier this month.
Construction of the first new container terminal, expected to cost 400 million dollars, will start in the second quarter of this year on a build-operate-transfer basis, he said.
Colombo port"s cargo flows are also recovering as trade recovers from recession, Wickrama said.
"Our target for 2010 is four million twenty-foot containers and we are quite confident that we can achieve this target without any difficulty.
?With the economic recovery in the last two months we experienced a rapid increase in volumes of nearly 20 percent compared to previous years," he said.
The SLPA statement said that cargo forecasts for Colombo had said the port would be reach maximum capacity of around 4.5 million twenty-foot equivalent container units in 2012.
It quoted Wickrama as saying the SLPA has already started improving capacity in the port by increasing the yard space, introducing new quay side and yard gantry cranes and installing a modern terminal operation system.
Ship traffic and container volumes in Colombo port slumped in 2009 compared with 2008 because of the trade slowdown caused by recession but began picking up towards the end of the year.
SLPA terminals also lost market share to the private South Asia Gateway Terminals in which conglomerate John Keells Holdings has a big stake.