Colombo Portís Eastern Container Terminal (ECT)
development project has been stalled since 2016 due to inconsistent policy
decisions taken by the government from time to time amidst intervention of the
President in awarding the contract to a suitable bidder among multiple
consortiums who have made expressions of interest (EOI).
The Asian Development Bank is expected to submit
a report to the Sri Lankan Government outlining modalities of transforming the
ECT to a Transshipment and bunkering hub in the region soon, it has been
officially stated according to Sri Lankan Media reports.
Multiple consortiums representing India- Japan
and China-Qatar -Iran along with the Sri Lanka Ports Authority have already
expressed interest to develop the ECT as the deepest Container Terminal at the
Port of Colombo helping to berth massive ships, container carriers and oil
tankers, official sources said.
The state-run Container Corporation of India
(Concor) has formed a consortium with APM Terminals BV, John Keells Holdings
and Maersk Line to bid for the ECT development in Colombo in 2017. The total
project value will be around $550-600 million. A Memorandum of Understanding
(MOU) had been signed on the ECT with this Indian ĖJapanese and Sri Lankan
consortium to develop the ECT in the same year.
This was the result of an assurance given by the
Government especially Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe that the East
Terminal will have an Indian investor/party so as to balance off any regional
concerns over Chinese presence in Hambantota Port. But the proposal was vetoed
by Sri Lankan President Maithripala Srisena and hence Sri Lanka had to
President Sirisena told the gathering at Sri
Lanka Ports Authorityís 38th anniversary ceremony recently that Colombo Portís
East Terminal will not be privatized or developed via Public Private Partnership.
It will remain with the Sri Lanka Ports Authority despite an on-going exercise
for non-state involvement.
He assured that the East Terminal will not be
handed over to any other party and insisted that it should be vested in the
Heeding the Presidentís protest at that time, the
Sri Lankan Government has convinced India to abandon the project as it needs to
maintain the ECT under the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA), a senior official
who was involved in the project negotiations said.
This deal to replace the India-Japan consortium
and bring a Chinese company with links to Qatar and Iran had been worked out to
take over ECT with a 1200m long quay wall, 18m deep berthing three mega ships
at a time.
A Cabinet paper t was presented during the period
when Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesingh was ousted last year and the country was run by President Srisena
to hand over the ECT modernization project to Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries
In the latest move of the Government, the new
board of directors of Sri Lanka Ports Authority has been entrusted with the
task of devising the strategic plan for ECT, the countryísPorts and Shipping Minister
Sagala Ratnayake told media recently.