Home » Ports/Terminals » Sri Lanka invests in Colombo and Hambantota port expansions

Sri Lanka aspires to build an Asian shipping hub that will compete against Singapore and Dubai by investing $3.4 billion into expanding ports in Colombo and Hambantota city.

Deeper berths, new terminals and greater efficiency in the capital city of Colombo and in southern Hambantota city will allow super post-Panamax ships to dock and transfer cargo more quickly to and from smaller vessels that carry goods for India and other emerging markets.

DredgingToday.com reported on July 17 that the Sri Lankan government has awarded the development of the Port of Colombo’s South Container Terminal to China Merchants Holdings (International) and Aitken Spence PLC Consortium. The project involves construction of three terminals under the $330 million Colombo Port Expansion Project (CPEP).

Each terminal will consist of three 400-meter-long berths and can accommodate 2.4 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) per year, said Deputy Minister of Ports and Aviation Rohitha Abeygunawardena.

The CPEP is expected to be completed in April 2012. Large vessels will be able to enter the new port, and container handling will double after the completion of the project, reports said. It will provide direct employment to 4,000 people.

Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan Ports authority said it signed an $810-million contract with China Communications Construction Company to build the second phase of Sri Lanka’s new port in Hambantota.

The port, which opened in November 2010 and is set to be Sri Lanka’s biggest port once completed, will give the country access to traffic on one of the world’s biggest east-west shipping lanes, located a few kilometers off its southern coast.

The first phase of the port was built by the China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), a China Communications subsidiary, backed by a $425 million Chinese loan. It is expected to be completed in three years, CHEC said.

Hambantota is one of four ports being built or upgraded under President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s plan to rejuvenate Sri Lanka’s $42 billion economy by returning it to its old, lucrative role as a trading hub.

Container volume in Sri Lanka surged 22 percent last year to 4.16 million TEUs, according to port authorities.

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