Newly Expanded Colombo Port To Make Sri Lanka Into Competitive Shipping Hub

Newly expanded Colombo Port will allow Sri Lanka to regain its role as a leading South Asia trans-shipment hub. Photo: P. Kumara

COLOMBO, SRI LANKA—The newly expanded Colombo Port formally opened for business today, a move that will allow Sri Lanka to regain its role as a leading South Asia trans-shipment hub.

Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa opened the port, which was also attended by Xiaoyu Zhao, Vice-President at the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

With a new breakwater, deeper basin, and the first of three modern new terminals now open, Colombo Port can accept the latest generation of 18,000 20-foot equivalent units (TEU) container ships and has facilities to send goods faster and more cost efficiently to other ports in the region.

“The Colombo port is extremely well located to serve the Indian subcontinent region. The enhanced deepwater facilities at Colombo Port will strengthen its strategic position on the key Asia-Europe shipping route, and would significantly boost regional trade,” said Mr. Zhao.

The project was developed on a public-private partnership basis. The ADB provided a $300 million loan for the construction of breakwater infrastructure. With government counterpart funding of $100 million, this was successfully completed by the public sector.

The South Container Terminal, the first of three container terminals to be accommodated on the breakwater, is being implemented with about $500 million of private sector investment from the Colombo International Container Terminals (CICT) – a joint venture established between China Merchant Holdings International and the Sri Lanka Ports Authority.

The first 400 meters of container operations will start operations today, providing additional capacity of 0.8 million TEUs per annum. The East and West Container Terminals are currently in planning stages. When fully opened, the three terminals will add a combined container handling capacity of 7.2 million TEUs to the existing port operations.