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Driving infrastructure

Article - February 6, 2012
Sri Lanka Ports Authority is leading the charge to develop the island's ports and related facilities
The Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) aims to capitalize on the country’s geostrategic advantages and turn it into Asia’s premier maritime and transportation focal point. “We have almost all the shipping lines in the world calling at Sri Lanka, which means the Sri Lankan economy will get a big boost,” says Dr. Priyath Bandu Wickrama, Chairman of the SLPA. “The ports sector contributes about 10% to GDP; to reach the targeted 40% we need more local and foreign investors to participate in this sector.”

The huge new Hambantota Mahinda Rajapaksa Port will serve as a logistics hub and is attracting private investors looking at manufacturing and assembling activities. “It will also be a free port. We have already received many calls from investors,” says Dr. Wickrama. “We are going to link the port to the airport with a wide road network.”

Expansion plans at the Port of Colombo will increase capacity in three stages at the country’s main container transshipment center to 13.0 million TEUs, up from its current 4.5 million TEUs. Around $150 million has already been poured into new equipment and IT systems, and the SLPA has secured investment of $700 million to build a multifaceted port city on reclaimed land on the capital’s seafront by 2015, along with a new harbor.

South of Colombo, the small port of Galle will focus on maritime tourism and a new marina is currently being built. “We also want to promote tourism in Trincomalee, one of the largest ports in the world,” says Dr. Wickrama, who adds that regional shipping needs will be met by developing the ports of Oluvil and Kankesanthurai.

In 2012, Sri Lanka hosts the 12th Asia/Oceania Regional Meeting and Port Forum, organized by the International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH) on March 8-9. It will take place at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH), in tandem with the first ever Sri Lanka International Air Freight, Shipping and Logistics Expo Exhibition on March 8-10.