The controversial Hambantota Port being developed
at the southern tip of Sri lanka is not somebody’s dream but based on a
feasibility study conducted fifteen years ago. But paucity of funds delayed the
implementation of the strategic project said the Sri Lankan Media quoting Chief Operating Officer of the Hambantota
International Port group Tissa Wickramasinghe as having said.
Addressing a group of Colombo based print and
electronic media journalists at the Hambantota Port premises last week, Wickramasinghe
said that Ramboll - a leading independent Swedish consultancy firm, had
according to its findings advised the Sri Lankan authorities in 2003, that the
Hambantota Port could be turned into a good container facility.
"The development of this port as the only
deep water multi-purpose facility in South Asia, was not somebody’s dream, but
a policy decision of the then government", he said. The port had the
strategic advantage of location that it sat on an existing sea route used by
around 300 commercial ships.
But lack of funds with the Sri Lankan government,
Wickramasinghe said, had delayed commencement of the project.
HIPG and Hambantota International Port Services ,
which are both subsidiaries of China Merchant Port Holdings, would in terms of
its 2016 Public-Private Partnership agreement with the Sri Lanka Ports
Authority, initially concentrate on providing crew change, bunkering, Ship
repairing and Ship building facilities, as Colombo already has two container
ports, he explained.
Mr.Wickramasinghe said the the Port would target
for the next phase to handle 20 million TEUs per year. This could be achieved
once industries in the region developed.
The Chinese company CM Port had invested 1.12
billion US Dollars in the Hambantota Port, with a further 146 million US
Dollars deposited in a Sri Lankan Bank account for future expansion, he added.
Wickramasinghe said that CM Port is a company
listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and was answerable to its shareholders,
who expected international standards and best practices to be maintained.