** Sagar Sandesh print version ceases to be published from December 31, 2017. New look E-paper would be available from Jan. 1, 2018 onwards. free of cost.**

Bunkering to resume at Hambantota Port to revive its prospects

Bunkering operations are set to resume shortly at the ailing Hambantota Port under the new management group and will be critical to the port’s success according to Sri Lankan media reports.

Total ship arrivals to Hambantota port had actually increased in 2012-2014 before declining in 2015-2017 due to the new government’s decision to halt fuel-bunkering operations. This activity was the very purpose of the port in President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s negotiations with Beijing in 2005 — before Rajapaksa’s presidency.

Second, completion of the wider Hambantota development project beyond the port — to include a highway, LPG transshipment terminal, LNG plant, and industrial zone — will be important for promoting its growth. 

Sri Lankan development planners have detailed the problems with how the Hambantota project could be resolved. A British firm is developing a master plan for the district that can draw on these lessons learned in order to position the port project for wider regional success. Highway expansion from Matara to Hambantota is visible, and railroad expansion from Matara to Beliatta is almost complete.

These initiatives will increase internal connectivity, providing direct links between Colombo and Hambantota. The Chinese-backed Southern Expressway has already reduced the time to travel between the two port locations to roughly four hours, and the travel time will likely drop to 2.5 hours upon completion. The highway is also expected to boost tourism to the east..

Finally, the port’s largest business at present is trans-shipping automobiles built in Asia to East Africa. A substantial majority of the business is Japanese, followed by Indian (from Chennai).

Mainline operators use Hambantota due to the significant yard space for roll-on, roll-off shipping, unlike in Colombo. Ultimately, the shipping industry will determine the business viability of this port and surrounding zone. But for strategists, this Japanese and Indian activity suggests that Hambantota — despite Chinese investment and majority control — could become a critical Node in the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC).

The Asia- African trade is expected to increase manifold in the next few years and the Hambantota port is positioned to reap the benefits. Analysts see poor performance of Indian port projects on this front. While Vallarpadem Port is slowly picking up, other projects at Colachel and Vizhinjam have not taken off

Japan and India envision the AAGC as a transparent, sustainable alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) for improving connectivity within the Indo-Pacific region.


Copyright © 2019 PORT TO PORT - Shipping Services Portal ( Sagar Sandesh ). All rights reserved.

Follow Us