Ports development in Sri Lanka under Mahinda Chintana:
Charting a course for prosperity
I am determined
to make our country the centre of the Asian silk route once again taking
advantage of its unique geographical location. I intend to develop it
into a navigation, aviation, trading and commercial centre linking the
East and the West. - Mahinda Chintana
With the election of President Mahinda Rajapaksa in November 2005,
many were keen to know how the President was going to implement his
ambitious policy document, Mahinda Chintana. Yet after four years in
office, President Rajapaksa has been able to do what most believed
impossible, in such a short time and at a time when the country was
fighting a ruthless terrorist organization. President Rajapaksa did not
forget the goals he set for his Government in Mahinda Chintana when he
took the decision to wipe out the terrorism menace. He had a vision for
the people of the country where they could enjoy the benefits of
development once its major obstacle - terrorism, was completely
eradicated. This is when Mahinda Chintana became a reality. This article
will examine one aspect of the policy document which is ports
development and review how far the Government has achieved goals set
forth in Mahinda Chintana.
The Colombo Port, looking forward to expanded economic activity.
The Colombo Port being the premier port in the country has naturally
become the focal point of all port development activities in Sri Lanka
since the formation of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA). However, as
a consequent of the Government policy to develop the regional areas in
the country, the SLPA attaches equal emphasis on the development of
Ports of Galle, Trincomalee, Kankasanthurai, Point Pedro and a new port
The proposed Colombo South Harbour will be located west of the
present South-West Breakwater in around 600hectares. The proposed
harbour will have four container terminals in the long-term and each
terminal is 1,200m in length to accommodate three berths with alongside
depth of 18m. The channel width of the harbour will be 570m and depth of
The development of the Phase I of the Colombo South Harbour has two
components. One is the infrastructure (breakwaters and dredging) with
public sector funds and the other is the first terminal construction
* The construction of the breakwater by placing of core material and
outer protection layers of first 1000m length of the breakwater has been
completed up to date.
* The rock transportation by sea from load Out Point (small harbour)
located at Wadduwa, Kalutara is fully operational and 15 to 20 barges of
different types of rock arrive Colombo per week.
* The dredging of main channel for the use of dredged sand in the
core of the breakwater and in the filling of the contractor’s working
area is in progress satisfactorily. Up to date more than 10 million
cubic metres have been completed.
* The submarine crude oil pipeline to the SPBM runs across the port
entrance at shallow depth. The first shipment of steel pipes consisting
90 percent of the total requirement has been brought at the site to
complete the laying in December 2010. The new pipeline will be
operational in March 2010.
* Overall progress is assessed at about 18 percent.
SLPA initiated actions for extension of JCT IV berth at Jaya
Container Terminal to enhance the capacity of the Colombo Port to
accommodate the mega container carriers now in operation and due to be
added to existing fleets during the next year or so. With the SLPA in
house resources the detailed design has been completed. With the
implementation of this projects it is possible to berth two 8,000 TEU
container ships simultaneously at JCT III and JCT IV.
New Terminal Management System (TOS) has commenced to replace the
current JCT Computer System which is obsolete and a new computer system
for JCT and to couple the functions with the New North Pier. The
projects consist of providing system software and hardware applications,
software communication systems including Networking, Radio Data
Communication System and DGPs. This will be implemented with the SLPA
With a view to the realization of full potential of the development
of harbour facility in Hambantota and the recognition of integrating
port development with regional development, the Hambantota Port is being
developed. As the Colombo Port is reaching its maximum capacity for all
types of cargo, another suitable and efficient port is in need with all
facilities to cater the increasing demand of maritime transportation and
The biggest service and industrial port in the country is being
constructed closest to the international maritime route in Hambantota.
It is the nearest point to the main shipping route that connects East
and West. The region is also considered a better geographical location
with fair weather conditions and closer to deep contours for such
Hambantota has a low density of population and is considered as a
less developed area for a long time. The availability of extensive land
areas and less restrictions in the planning therefore, have enabled to
construct Hambantota Port Project as an internal port which is cost
effective rather than the off shore constructions. Due to the natural
depth along the coast line, there is no need for a lengthier approach
channel. The land in the area also stands suitable for a number of port
related industries and services.
The Hambantota Port Development Project will be carried out
especially enabling to handle 100000DWT vessels. It will have an
approach channel of 210 metres wide and 17 metres deep.
The turning circle at the port will be of a diameter of 610 metres at
a depth of 17 metres. The port will also consist of a Service Vessel
Berth of 105 metres long, an Oil Terminal Berth of 310 metres long at a
17 metres depth and a Quay Wall (General Cargo) of 600 metres long at a
17 metres depth. The West and East breakwaters constructed for the port
are of 988 metres and 312 metres long respectively.
Two breakwater arms will be constructed on the seaside to ensure the
safe navigation and the basin and quay walls within the lagoon called
“Karagam Lewaya”, having an access channel across the Hambantota -
Colombo main road. The main important feature of this project is the
construction of the quay wall and basin in dry condition after
constructing a cofferdam along the perimeter.
The Hambantota Port is planned as a Service and Industrial Port and
subsequently it could be developed as a trans-shipment port depending on
the increasing cargo volumes.
In view of urgency, a short term plan has been prepared for a service
port as phase one of the project cater to the immediate demands in
accordance with the master plan.
A key aspect of the new economic ties between Sri Lanka and China was
the agreement by China to fund the Hambantota Port Development Project
and related activities at a cost of US$ 361 million. There was also an
additional agreement to fund the new oil refinery costing US$1 billion.
Contractor M/s China Harbour Engineering Company and Sinohydro
Corporation Joint Venture has commenced the construction work under the
supervision of Engineering team of SLPA.
As of November 2009, the construction of coffer dam is 100 percent
completed while 75 percent of the construction of the service berth and
69 percent of the construction of General Purpose Berth are completed.
The construction of break water has completed 71 percent. Courtesy:
Policy Research and Information Unit, Presidential Secretariat
To be continued