The Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) yesterday achieved a milestone of surpassing the two million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) handled in its terminals clocking a 26.5% year to date growth, higher than the private sector managed South Asia Gateway Terminals (SAGT).
The 2 millionth container was ceremoniously discharged from Mv. APL Sharjah at the SLPA-managed JCT with a host of officials present. SLPA said that the breakup of two million TEUs handled by it alone included a 37% increase of local import/export TEUs and a 21% increase of transshipment boxes.
“The SLPA is in a better position as a state-run terminal compared to the privately-owned South Asia Gateway Terminals (SAGT) which possesses a 16% of volume increase in the period under review,” the SLPA said in a statement.
With this total TEU handling of 2 million by the SLPA which demonstrates an increase of 26.5% compared to the same period in the previous year, the SLPA also shows up an increase of 7.6 % compared to the total figure of 1.9 million TEUs, the highest-ever performance rate recorded by SLPA in the year 2008 before recession hit global trade.
The SLPA also bagged another record recently by handling its highest-ever monthly volume of 201,217 TEUs in August this year achieving an increase of 22% compared with the month of August in 2009. Meanwhile, the Port of Colombo (including SAGT), by August this year was able to handle 360,973 TEUs marking a 10% growth compared to the same period last year.
“The Port of Colombo would also reach the four million TEU mark prior to the end of the year which will also be a record written in the history books,” the statement added.
SLPA said it had been successful in attracting 11 new shipping services to JCT in the recent past and that mega liners such as APL and MSC were now patronising SLPA.
SLPA’s Managing Director, Capt. Nihal Keppetipola said that the most significant among the other factors that contributed to this growth momentum, is the paradigm shift brought about in the organisational procedures, business processes and the mindsets of employees by the three year plan conceptualised by SLPA Chairman, Dr. Priyath B. Wickrema which was meticulously followed by the management team.
He further said “under the leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, port construction has become a national priority in Sri Lanka and the SLPA, headed by its dynamic chairman, has been able to bring many port development projects, which had not gone beyond paying mere lip service in the past, into realities as stated in the ‘Mahinda Chinthana’ manifesto. Every plan on the part of SLPA has been formulated to develop Sri Lanka as a Commercial Hub, which could serve as a key link between the East and the West, using its strategic geographical location effectively.
The SLPA recently declared open its newly constructed Port of Hambantota heralding a new chapter in the port development history in Sri Lanka. Phase 1 of the Colombo South Harbour which gives an additional 2.4 million TEU capacity too will be ready by early 2013, thus ensuring Sri Lanka, the South Asian Container Hub status.