Roads, Highways, Ports, and Shipping Minister Johnston Fernando assume duties
- New Ports Minister says talks to commence today
- Expanding ports sector with stakeholder engagement a priority of administration
The long- delayed East Container Terminal (ECT) of the Colombo Port will be fast-tracked under the new administration with talks to be held with relevant authorities today, according to newly-appointed Roads, Highways, Ports, and Shipping Minister Johnston Fernando.
The construction of the ECT will take place without further delay, he said, while assuming duties at the Ports and Shipping Ministry. “We have already held discussions with a number of people, including the business community. Their main concern is the delay in the construction of the terminal,” Fernando explained.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa have given him clear instructions to start work on the Colombo Port as soon as possible, Fernando said, adding that he plans to make the Ministry a place of action rather than discussion.
“A port can be a large source of revenue and we plan on increasing the efficiency of the Colombo Port. In the past, we have seen how the operations of a port can be successfully carried out under State administration and I request trade unions to corporate with us,” Fernando said.
“A port is similar to the heart of a country. Therefore as the port sector plays a crucial role in posting positive statistics for a country’s economy. Our administration is primarily focused on improving efficiency to ensure expansion of the sector. I believe that with the contribution of all the stakeholders of the institution we can accomplish the expected development goals.”
The Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) between the Governments of Sri Lanka and India, Japan, and China in May. While the project will increase Colombo Port’s container volume, SLPA in a statement issued in May said that under the MoC, SLPA will retain 100% ownership of ECT and the Japanese loan carried one of the best loan terms Sri Lanka has obtained. The Japanese are expected to provide a loan of $ 500 million.
SLPA also said that Terminal Operations Company (TOC), which conducts all ECT operations, is jointly owned, with Sri Lanka retaining a 51% stake.