Likely to silence critics, Hambantota’s initial aim as an industrial port will get a big boost today, when first of the three mega ventures starts work.
The groundbreaking ceremony on $ 7.4 million fertiliser plant by Hayleys Plc in partnership with Hong Kong-based Dragon Asia Fertiliser Ltd., at Magampura Ruhunupura Mahinda Rajapaksa Port will be held at 10 a.m.
Hayleys' venture is among the three initial projects approved by the Government. The other two are are petrochemical plant by Singapore’s Peak Energy Ltd. and a sugar refinery plant by India’s Shree Renuka Sugar Ltd.
These three are part of an envisaged US$ 1 billion project pipeline for Hambantota Port.
Hayleys is taking leadership as the first Sri Lankan private sector firm to foray into the Hambantota Port. It will operate a fertiliser storage, processing and bagging plant on a 2.5 hectares of land area.
The sugar plant will encompass 20 hectares whilst the petrochemical venture will located on a plot of 15 hectares.
Last week Cabinet approved an investment by Thatta Cement Company of Pakistan to set up a cement grinding and bagging plant in Hambantota. Vehicle assembling and warehouses are some of the prospective new ventures.
The SLPA originally floated a Request of Proposal (RFP) which drew 27 entrepreneurs interested in developing business ventures within the Hambantota Port. Of this 14 were identified and shortlisted.
SLPA Chairman Dr. Priyath Bandu Wickrama had maintained that the Cabinet of Ministers has already been given approval for three business ventures, investment amounting to more than US$ 600 million.
A ship repair yard is also planned to establish within the Hambantota Port premises in an area of 48 hectares of land. As the demand of the investors is high, another RFP will also be planned to float soon, Dr. Wickrama said.
The Hambantota Port with an investment of $ 1.4 billion was commissioned last year to tap the vast maritime and trade potential via the country’s strategic location.
China on commercial terms loaned a combined $ 1.24 billion to build the port and a four million metric tonne fuel bunkering facility, all of it built by Chinese engineers.