CICT elevates Colombo to mega port status

Wednesday, 9 October 2013 01:41 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Attracts brand new 14,000 TEU container vessel
Colombo International Container Terminals Ltd. (CICT), a joint venture between China Merchants Holdings International Company Ltd. and the Sri Lanka Ports Authority, has delivered on its commitment to be the single catalyst and significant player in making the Port of Colombo the regional maritime hub. Within a very short time period of just three months of commencing commercial operations, CICT has attracted the largest-ever container ship of 14,000 teu capacity to make a regular call at its terminal in the Colombo South Harbour. The brand new vessel MV. Thalassa Hellas owned by the world’s fourth largest container Shipping Line, Evergreen Marine Corporation of Taiwan, berthed at the western end of the 18 metre deep alongside berth at CICT last afternoon. This maiden call of this vessel was given a traditional welcome on arrival by senior officials of CICT. Also present at the berth to witness this historic occasion were the owners representatives of the shipping line, senior officials of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority, and other invitees of Evergreen Marine Corporation. The behemoth entering the new access channel of the Port of Colombo, direct from the Indian Ocean into the new Colombo South Harbour basin, was a prize picture for those following the history of the Port of Colombo. The Sri Lanka Ports Authority provided the professional pilotage and related tug boat services to ensure the safe berthing of the ship, alongside the berth. The manoeuvring of the 370 meter long vessel was carried out to precision with the assistance of the very high-powered bow-thrusters and the latest navigational equipment fitted on board this vessel. This event is a very significant milestone in the history of the Port of Colombo, as there is no other port in the whole of South Asia, adjacent to the East-West shipping route, that could accommodate and service such a large vessel. CICT has proved now, with the arrival of this vessel at CICT, that the focus of attention of all the other competing shipping lines is bound to shift to the Port of Colombo. This CICT project commenced construction in December 2011 with a project completion timeframe of 60 months. But within months CICT revised the timeframe to fully complete the project from the original plan of 60 months to 28 months. The first phase of construction was completed in 19 months and equipped with the largest-ever ship to shore gantry cranes and commenced commercial operation very much ahead of schedule. With the second phase also running ahead of schedule, the second batch of ship to shore cranes arrived just two weeks ago. CICT, backed by a huge technical resource pool of shareholders, is to accomplish the full project by the first quarter of next year to meet the challenges in handling the 18,000 plus TEU ships that are already in service. This would no doubt draw the attention of the shipping lines and logistics service providers to the pivotal role that the Port of Colombo will play in the region. Asked to comment on the two record achievements of fast tracking the construction period and delivering on attracting the largest carrier to the Port of Colombo, the General Manager of CICT Tissa Wickramasinghe emphasised that this challenging achievement was made possible due to the joint venture partners working together to meet the single objective of making the Port of Colombo the regional maritime hub. This was complemented with the ABC philosophy of American quality, British standards, and Chinese speed. CICT is focused on attracting the attention of the niche market of ultra-large-container-carriers, to make Colombo the port of call on their East-West service rotation. He acknowledged that with the current trend of the container shipping industry being the phasing in of ultra-large-container-carriers and mega-alliances among the major players, there were challenging but exciting times ahead for CICT and the Port of Colombo.