Cabinet nod to procure cranes for east container terminal

Monday, 22 June 2015 00:10 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • International tenders called for SLPA-funded leg of Colombo Port extension project

By Shehana Dain

Cabinet approval has been given to call for tenders for four handling cranes and 12 gantry cranes required for an $ 80 million container terminal built by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA).

The cranes will be required for the East Container Terminal (ECT) under the Colombo Port Expansion Project kicked off by the previous Government. Currently 400m of the planned 1200m long terminal has been completed.

“The Cabinet proposal was submitted by Ports and Shipping Minister Arjuna Ranatunga to procure the necessary cranes under an internationally-competitive bidding method in line with Government procurement guidelines,” Cabinet Spokesman Dr. Rajith Senaratne said. 

With the construction of the ECT, SLPA expects to have a deep draft berth to cater to new generation deep draft vessels, increase container handling capacity and reduce ship waiting time at the Colombo port.

The quay wall of the ECT is designed to allow the container vessels of 400 meter length with a container capacity of 230,000 DWT to berth. The quay is designed to support a 65 ton ship-to-shore crane (STS), a 30-metre rail span, a back reach area and roads, according to earlier reports. 

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) funds 81.7% of the $ 330 million project and the balance 18.3% is born by SLPA. The SLPA in March 2014 signed an agreement with the Bank of Ceylon for Rs. 10.50 billion ($ 80.6 million) to finance the project.

Meanwhile, Ranatunga at the inauguration of the International Maritime Conference 2015 recently emphasised the need for a national policy on shipping and stressed that stakeholder feedback is vital to make the proposed actions materialise. 

“This is a country that has had no policy for anything. This is something I have been talking about for many years. We as a country have tried to do this many times previously but have failed to do so,” he said.

He further noted the Ports and Shipping Ministry could not directly implement these policies and that he and the Ministry could only support this cause, the ideologies and the push had to come from within the industry.

Ranatunga pointed out the main reason for failures in the past was the incompetence and lack of familiarity of the previous policy makers. “Unfortunately what happened before was people who were not involved in the industry tried to run the organisations and that’s where we failed.” 

Ranatunga replied in response to Shippers Academy CEO Rohan Maskorala’s request for a national policy which does not alter with regime changes or other political implications and would ensure smooth sailing for the maritime and logistics industry in the long run. 

“I have confidence that under the new Minister we can make use of the infrastructure we have built. We have to develop the Hambantota port Po make the best use of it,” he added.  

Commenting on the Colombo and Hambantota Ports, the Minister said they were doing everything possible to “come out of the mess created”.

“While Colombo is doing pretty well it is unfortunate the Hambantota Port is using up its profits. However, there are many investors who are planning to come and invest not only in Hambantota but also in Colombo and we are very optimistic about it.” 

Operating profits at Sri Lanka Ports Authority fell 53.4% to Rs. 2.4 billion in 2013 with revenues also down 2.3% to Rs. 37.2 billion, despite an increase in container volumes in Colombo, official data showed.

Ranatunga asserted that the first-ever international Maritime Conference would be a platform to promote investment opportunities to interested parties and this time around things would change under his supervision.

Post-conflict Sri Lanka has seen the Government actively invest in maritime infrastructure connecting with global investors to establish an Indian subcontinent shipping and logistics hub. However the country has been slow in its marketing and promotional efforts to showcase its advantages. 

The Colombo International Maritime Conference (CIMC), the first effort in this regard to position the country’s shipping, logistics and maritime sector, will be held from 24-26 September.