On this auspicious day, 1st August 2023, we gather to celebrate the 44th anniversary of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority, a journey marked by dedication, progress, and achievements since its establishment in 1979.
The story of Sri Lanka Ports Authority traces back to the early 20th century when the Port of Colombo was administered by the Colombo Port Commission, playing a vital role in the supply and maintenance of cargo-handling equipment and infrastructure, pilotage services, docking, and slipping. In 1958, the Port Cargo Corporation took over these activities from multiple operators, followed by the formation of the Port Tally and Protective Services Corporation in 1967.
A historic moment arrived on the 1st of August 1979 when the Sri Lanka Ports Authority was created under the Sri Lanka Ports Authority Act, merging the Colombo Port Commission Department and two statutory Corporations. This merger led to a unified organization with a streamlined structure, empowered to chart its own course by operating on its revenue and resources without financial allocations from the government.
Guided by a compelling vision to be the driving agency of Sri Lanka and achieve the status of a global maritime and logistics hub, and a mission to provide world-class port facilities and logistics services to all stakeholders while contributing to national economic development, the Sri Lanka Ports Authority embarked on a remarkable journey of progress and transformation.
Over the years, the Sri Lanka Ports Authority has embarked on a journey of growth and expansion, marked by significant milestones. In 1954, a transformative moment arrived with the inauguration of the Queen Elizabeth Quay, accompanied by the completion of 16 alongside berths, transit sheds, and warehouses. This marked the beginning of a new era, emphasizing the authority’s commitment to modernization and capacity enhancement.
Subsequent developments further solidified the authority’s dedication to progress. The construction and development of Jaye Container Terminals I, II, III, and IV showcased the authority’s continuous efforts to keep up with the demands of a dynamic maritime industry while fostering a robust infrastructure to handle growing container traffic.
In 1997, strategic diversification came into play with the inauguration of the Oil Berth and the commencement of the South Asia Gateway Terminal. These initiatives propelled Colombo Port into the spotlight of global connectivity, further reinforcing its position as a crucial transshipment hub in the region.
As the new millennium dawned, groundbreaking ceremonies and ambitious projects defined the authority’s vision for the future. The construction of a new berth in Galle Port, the Colombo South Harbour feasibility study, and the development of the Port of Hambantota marked a period of foresight and proactive planning to cater to the increasing demands of international trade and shipping.
In subsequent years, the Port of Colombo achieved handling milestones, crossing the 2 million and 4 million container marks in 2010 and 2011, respectively. These accomplishments reflected the authority’s dedication to operational efficiency and its pivotal role in handling the nation’s cargo with utmost effectiveness.
The inauguration of Colombo International Container Terminal (CICT) in 2013 and the commencement of Phase V of Jaya Container Terminal in 2020 demonstrated the authority’s commitment to state-of-the-art infrastructure and technology. These cutting-edge facilities showcased Colombo Port’s ability to meet the demands of modern shipping and further strengthened its position as a preferred destination for maritime trade.
The authority’s continuous efforts and commitment to excellence were further recognized when the Port of Colombo earned accolades as the world’s highest container growth port in the first half of 2018, as per Alphaliner’s esteemed ranking. This global recognition attested to the authority’s relentless pursuit of growth and efficiency, establishing itself as a formidable player in the global maritime arena.
Furthermore, the Sri Lanka Ports Authority has been recognized globally for its excellence, winning awards such as “Port Authority of The Year” and “Port Infrastructure Development of the Year” at the Global Ports Forum.
Commissioning the ECT not only added to the port’s capacity but also showcased the authority’s commitment to modernization and efficiency in handling container traffic. This state-of-the-art facility has cemented Colombo Port’s position as a major transshipment hub in the region, enhancing connectivity and trade facilitation.
Another remarkable feat in the journey of Sri Lanka Ports Authority is the construction of the Colombo West International Terminal (CWIT). This mega project further solidifies Colombo Port’s status as a key player in global maritime trade. CWIT’s advanced infrastructure and cutting-edge facilities have opened new doors of opportunity, attracting shipping lines and businesses from around the world, ultimately contributing to the nation’s economic prosperity.
Beyond the boundaries of Colombo, the Sri Lanka Ports Authority has actively engaged in the development of other key ports across the island, driving regional growth and inclusive development.
The Trincomalee Port, nestled in the picturesque natural harbor, has witnessed significant growth in cargo handling. The authority’s strategic investments and operational efficiency have transformed Trincomalee Port into a bustling hub for bulk cargo and petroleum products, playing a vital role in the nation’s energy security and economic progress.
Kankesanthurai, in the northern region of Sri Lanka, has witnessed the development of a passenger terminal. This initiative reflects the Sri Lanka Ports Authority’s commitment to fostering regional connectivity and promoting tourism, a crucial aspect of the nation’s post-war resurgence.
The Port of Galle has been another focus of development efforts by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority. With significant investments in modernization and capacity enhancement, the port has emerged its potentialities to be a fully-fledged tourist port, catering to the growing demand for cruise tourism and enhancing Sri Lanka’s appeal as a prime tourist destination in South Asia.
In the face of unprecedented challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the resilience and commitment of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority have been exemplary. Even during the peak of the pandemic, the Port of Colombo continued its operations, ensuring the smooth flow of essential goods and maintaining critical supply chains. This commitment to service, even in the most testing times, speaks volumes about the authority’s dedication to its role as a key driver of the nation’s economy.
In the vibrant world of maritime trade and global commerce, the Port of Colombo emerges as an undeniable force. As per the esteemed Alphaliner grading, it currently holds a notable position at 23 among global ports, a true testament to its significance and influence. The Port of Colombo is on the verge of a radical metamorphosis, driven by ambitious ongoing development projects that will elevate its handling capacity from the existing 8.5 Million TEUs to an astounding 14 Million TEUs. This monumental leap will propel the port to an awe-inspiring rank among the world’s 14 best ports, solidifying its position as a crucial player in ensuring the seamless functioning of the global supply chain. Get ready for the Port of Colombo’s ascendance to greatness – a beacon of growth and efficiency on the international maritime stage.
Celebrating 44 years of excellence and progress, we extend our heartfelt gratitude to the visionary leadership, committed workforce, and valued stakeholders who have contributed to the remarkable journey of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority. It is your unwavering dedication and hard work that have paved the way for our achievements and global recognition.
Setting sail into the future, we renew our pledge to uphold the highest standards of operational efficiency, technological innovation, and sustainable practices. With ongoing expansion and development projects, including the Colombo West International Terminal, the Port of Galle, and others, the Sri Lanka Ports Authority is poised to reach new heights and contribute even more significantly to the nation’s prosperity.
Embracing the future with enthusiasm and determination, let us reaffirm our commitment to providing world-class port facilities and logistics services, fostering international collaborations, and contributing to the economic prosperity of our beloved nation. Together, let us continue to build a brighter and more prosperous future for our beloved nation and solidify our position as a global maritime and logistics hub.