A special meeting to reach a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the terminals of the Port of Colombo was held at the Ministry of Ports and Shipping on 14th March 2018. The meeting had been convened with the initiative of Hon. Minister of Ports and Shipping Mahinda Samarasinghe and with the participation of Dr.ParakramaDissanayake, the Chairman of Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA).
Following the clarification of the objective towards the agreement by the Minister, the three terminal operators at the Port of Colombo; the Jaya Container Terminal (JCT) under SLPA, the South Asia Gateway Terminal (SAGT) and the Colombo International Container Terminal (CICT) reached into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to operate collectively to promote the Port of Colombo. Under the new collective agreement, it is expected to minimize the waiting time of all container vessels outside the port waters by allowing operations of vessels at the immediately available terminal. Further, through the new agreement, terminals will also be able to promote the Port of Colombo collectively and collaboratively in the arena of international maritime business.
Speaking at the occasion, Hon.Minister of Ports and Shipping Mahinda Samarasinghe stated that new mechanisms and measures will be taken with the ship owners, local ship line agents and all stake holders and the Business community to collaboratively work towards promoting the Port of Colombo as the maritime centre of Asia. “Although the three terminals compete separately and individually, now they can work on a collaborative mission to operate vessels calling at the Port of Colombo,” the Minister said.
Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) signed its first Public Private Partnership (PPP) agreement with the South Asia Gateway Terminal (SAGT) in 1999 for 30 years that brought an investment of US $ 180 million to the SLPA. Under the agreement, the SAGT owned 85% of shares locally and internationally whilst the SLPA owned 15%. Since the first agreement and to date the total investment by the SAGT under the PPP has reached US $ 220 million. By the end 2017, the terminal surpassed the mark of handling 1.8 million TEUs.
The next PPP agreement by SLPA for terminal operation, was with the Colombo International Container Terminal (CICT) in 2013 for 35 years that brought an investment of US $ 550 million to the Sri Lankan port sector. The agreement took the same course to claim 85% of shares by the CICT and the rest by SLPA. The Colombo International Container Terminal (CICT) up to date has handled more than 2.4 million TEUs and the total investment to date by the owner is US $ 600 million.
The Jaya Container Terminal (JCT) that occupies a 100% ownership by SLPA is operated as the main state owned terminal. Although it showed a negative growth in 2016, with the accelerated procedures to increase efficiency, the terminal reached an 8.5% growth by the end 2017 handling 2 million TEUs.
With tremendous growth capacities achieved by all three terminals since last year, the Port of Colombo is reaching towards higher ranking rates at international maritime indexes. At present, the Port of Colombo ranks at 23 through the 50 best container operating ports in the world. The port also ranks 15th among the best connectivity ports in the world.
The Hon.Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe said that the port exceeded the 6.2 million TEU target in collaboration with all terminals at the Port of Colombo and the port expects to reach the 7 million TEU target by the end this year. “ We will take the new initiative forward to promote the Port of Colombo internationally, together with all stake holders and to attract more new shipping lines that work in alliances to the port. Cabinet approval has received for the modernization of the Jaya Container Terminal (JCT) and tenders have been called. We have also expedited the construction of the East Container Terminal (ECT) that will be operated by SLPA to ensure best services for all mega container vessels calling at the Port of Colombo in near future,” the Minister added. The Minister also said that the implementations that will largely benefit in making the maritime centre concept a reality will always take green concepts into consideration in constructions of all spheres as per the instructions extended by His Excellency the President Maithripala Sirisena.
Speaking at the occasion, the Chairman of Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA), Dr.ParakramaDissanayake said that the whole purpose of the MOU was to ensure that the resources were shared to ensure the provision of best possible services to the clients. “On the Asia to Europe sector, there are 17 loops of which only 03 are calling Colombo. Therefore, obviously, we have got challenges to ensure that collectively we should attract more loops into the Port of Colombo. This means, we have to go beyond the partisan approach of promoting our terminals to protect the Port of Colombo,” the Chairman said.
“We will compete with each other but will also co-operate with each other, moving between competition and co-operation,” he added.
Further speaking the Chairman of SLPA Dr.ParakramaDissanayake said that in the Month of January 2018, the Port of Colombo witnessed an overall growth of 16.4% and a transshipment growth of 20.4% which was historic on an year on year basis. “ It continued through the month of February as the overall growth of the Port of Colombo reached up to 19.9%, sustaining the growth of transshipment up to 23.4% for the period. In the month of January the growth of Jaya Container Terminal (JCT) was 24.8% that continued to grow up to 25.2% in February,” he added.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Colombo International Container Terminal (CICT) Mr.Jack Huang and the Chief Executive Officer of the South Asia Gateway Terminal (SAGT) Mr.Romesh David also spoke at the meeting.
The Secretary to the Ministry of Ports and Shipping, Mr.L.P.Jayampathi, Vice Chiarman of SLPA Mr.P.G.Dasanayake, Managing Director of SLPA Mr. H.D.A.S.Premachandra, a number of high ranking officials of SLPA, Heads of terminal operators at the Port of Colombo, local shipping line agents, representatives and media were also present at the meeting.