SLPA sets sail on Vision 2020 for Logistics Excellence on Silk Route

Thursday, 1 August 2013 02:26 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Cheranka Mendis Giving a further boost to the targeted achievement of becoming a maritime hub in the region, Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) on Tuesday introduced a corporate plan titled ‘Vision 2020 – Logistic Excellence in the Silk Route’ with a redefined vision and mission, shifting from the original aim of being a container hub to being a global logistical centre. With a mission to deliver world class services in a sustainable environment, the SLPA is expected to construct a multi-dimensional logistics system to integrate the logistics function while opening a deep water seaport with excellent maritime access and expanding other port and sea-based activities. Under the detailed outlook plan which was described as a “futuristic document” by Guest of Honour MP Namal Rajapaksa, the Authority aims for Sri Lanka to become a centre of maritime excellence by 2020, with 200 million tonnage in cargo handling, US$ 1 billion in revenue, US$ 10 billion in port investments (within the ports), and be a leading contributor to the national economy and a green port operator. The document encompasses all areas such as operations, logistics, capital expenditure, development projects, strategies etc. which will eventually lead to management support tools. SLPA Chairman Dr. Priyath Bandu Wickrama noted that the SLPA initially worked according to a three year development plan under his chairmanship in 2008, which was later extended to a five year period. A year ahead of completion, the SLPA and the industry is reaping the benefits of the past strategy which has helped the authority to stay abreast while the downturn took its toll on the world economies. “The corporate plan set by the SLPA is another attempt in my quest for the dependant variable – the success of SLPA,” Dr. Wickrama said. “The Corporate Plan for SLPA titled Vision 2020 describes the direction of the ports sector in Sri Lanka. It will also act as the corporate radar that tracks the forces shaking our businesses.” What geared him towards making such a strategic decision was the Mahinda Chinthana – Vision for the Future which indicated how Sri Lanka’s geostrategic location can be exploited to help the socioeconomic development of the country, coupled with the aggressive expansion of operations in the SLPA to strengthen itself against the current competitive environment. In the regional context, other ports in the Indian Ocean are undergoing rapid modernisation with state-of-the-art innovation which is an increasing threat to the country’s future development plans. On the other hand, in the global context, there are vast changes taking place in the ports, shipping and maritime sectors due to market forces. “This has made it necessary for the SLPA to reshape capabilities to meet the demands of the environment in which it must compete.” This has also made the need for understanding SLPA’s business environment and interpreting the signals more crucial than ever before. “Against this backdrop, the management of SLPA clearly identifies the importance of positioning the ports of Sri Lanka to compete strongly by exploiting its strategic geographical location and providing enhanced logistical services. This requires service packages offered by the SLPA to be more attuned to the needs of customers.” The document has been put together with the incorporation of ideas from all parties – the senior management, middle management and trade unions. The plan was wholly prepared by the SLPA, he assured. No external consultants were involved. Congratulating the SLPA on their move towards creating a strategic plan for 2020, Guest of Honour MP Namal Rajapaksa noted that the development of this sector will facilitate the rapid expansion of the national economy. He observed that the plan has given consideration to aspects such as sound financial management, sustainable development and reducing carbon footprint – key factors for growth. “Today, all eyes are on Asia. Europe is still struggling to deal with effects of the recent economic crisis and other Western nations are recovering somewhat, but have not fully recovered. China and India are poised to become the next economic superpowers of the world. In this scenario, Sri Lanka occupies a great strategic position in the maritime routes of the Asian region. Therefore, becoming a maritime hub was only too obvious,” Rajapaksa said. Noting that the Indian Ocean is the world’s third largest ocean which carries half of the world’s container cargo and one third of bulk cargo, he assured that establishing Sri Lanka as a maritime hub will not only help the country grow as an economic force in Asia but will also provide an invaluable service to the region overall. “Facilitating enhanced trade and commerce through the ports sector together with other infrastructure developments will enable Sri Lanka to provide a supporting role for Asia as a region.” In keeping with the President’s vision of developing key hubs, the new ports vision of establishing Sri Lanka as centre of logistic excellence on the Silk Route is not only timely but is necessary in the increasingly competitive global economic environment, he added. Rajapaksa further stated that the President has realised and embraced a combined maritime-aviation paradigm – sea and airport model for logistic development as development in any sector cannot take place in isolation. “This is why the Government has placed equal importance on developing the country’s aviation sector, road network, ICT infrastructure and education among others. It is only through this type of an approach that Sri Lanka will be able to maximise the potential of its unique geographical and geo-political location.” Citing examples, he pointed out that Hambantota Port is connected to the Mattala airport by an expressway, while similarly, Colombo Port will be connected to Katunayake airport by an expressway. Project Minister for Ports and Highways Rohitha Abeygunawardena added that Vision 2020 will be of vital importance and strength to the country’s economy, and will place Sri Lanka on equal footing with international parties in becoming a maritime hub. Phase One of the Colombo Port expansion project will commence on 5 August under the patronage of President Rajapaksa, he said. FT Insight Vision 2020: Aspiration and strategies 14 strategies have been identified to foster the following aspirations by 2020: 1. Centre for maritime excellence 2. 200 million tonnage in cargo handling 3. US$ 1 billion in revenue 4. US$ 10 billion in port investments (within the ports) 5. Leading contributor to the national economy 6. Green port operator The strategies are: Development of infrastructure and super structure facilities in Colombo Consolidate the position of Colombo Port as a centre of maritime experience Introduce sector specific marketing and business development programs Develop Magam Ruhunupura Mahinda Rajapaksa Port (MRMR Port) as an international service, industrial and container handling port Enhance safety and security for cargo and port users Mark global presence in strategic locations Organisational restructuring and redesigning administrative procedures Implementation of advanced financial management systems Reduce carbon footprint Develop other regional ports as per their individual strengths and competitive advantages Diversification of business activities Provision of facilities for oil and gas Efficient vessel oriented services Corporate social responsibility