Sri Lanka has scotched speculations that the
Colombo Port East Container terminal will be handed over to India when the
countryís port minister Samarasingh said he would soon be moving a proposal
before the Sri Lankan Cabinet recommending that the terminalís operations be
handed over to the Sri Lankan Port Authority according to Sri Lankan media
Speculations were rife for over a year that the
new terminal will be handed over to India and that the Container Corporation of
India will take over the Operations. Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari confirmed
the proposal while addressing newspersons after launching the Adaniís Container
terminal at Ennore port last year. The proposal under consideration of the Sri
Lankan government was to give it on
lease to India for thirty five years like the one given to Chinese companies to
run the other terminals in Colombo port.
Mr Samarasimghe said the proposal he would move
in the Sri Lankan Cabinet is that the countryís Port Authority will operate the
terminal. He wanted to quicken the pace of operation of the terminal and
therefore will be moving the cabinet. Setting the time frame for commissioning
of the terminal, he said it would take at least eighteen months to acquire
brand new machinery and equipment for the terminal. The government was also
exploring the possibility of leasing some equipment for the proposed terminal.
He said it was the previous governments that
leased out two container terminals of Colombo port South Asia Gateway terminal
and Colombo International container terminal to Chinese companies which held 85
per cent of the stakes and remaining were held by Sri Lankan Port Authority.
The agreements were for a thirty year Build Operate Transfer basis
The Sri Lankan Minister strongly defended recent
visits to Trincomalee and Hambantota harbours undertaken by Japanese Defence
Minister Itsunori Onodera. The ministerís two-day visit coincided with JMSDF
"Ikazuchi" arrival at the Trincomalee harbour earlier this week. The
Defence Minister was accompanied by Japanese Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Kenichi
Samarasinghe said that the Hambantota port was
not sold but leased to China enterprise. Hambantota International Port Group
(HIPG) and Hambantota International Port Services (HIPS), two new companies set
up by the China Merchants Port Holdings Company and the Sri Lanka Ports
Authority are in control of the port.
However, Samarasinghe made no reference to the
fact that Hambantota port had been given on a 99-year-lease.
on Sri Lankaís relations with India, China and Japan, particularly in aviation
and maritime domains, Samarasinghe paid a glowing tribute to Japan for
significant support provided over the years. Samarasinghe said that Japan had
provided a substantial grant to improve the Trincomalee harbour in addition to
backing the expansion of the Colombo port.Samarasinghe said that no one should
be concerned about foreign delegates visiting Hambantota port.
Samarasinghe dismissed media reports that Mattala
airport was to be handed over to India because China got the Hambantota port.
Samarasinghe said that there was no basis for such an assertion.
Sri Lanka was keen to bring in foreign investors
because Mattala required such investment, Samarasinghe said. According to
Samarasinghe talks were underway with India to finalize deal on the Mattala