The infrastructure and logistics at the Hambantota Port should be developed to international standards to attract ships and make full use of the port, said Chairman, Shipping, Ports and Aviation Committee of the National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka (NCCSL), Sujeiva Samaraweera.
The Mattala airport site
He said positioning the port with a sound supply chain is pivotal to attract vessels and realise the full potential of the project.
“A large number of ships travel across the South of Sri Lanka.Good infrastructure and logistical services are vital to attract ships” Samaraweera said.
The new port will provide services to the ships that sail on the southern route. Over 500 ships are said to pass the South of the country.
Samaraweera said the rate structure for bunkering and port charges should be revised to be competitive and to gain comparative advantage. Port and freight rates in Sri Lanka are high, a disadvantage for the shipping industry.
“The NCCSL has called upon the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) to do a study of the competitive rates in the region” Samaraweera said. The NCCSL has been promoting the expansion of the port and aviation industry to develop the economy of the country.
The Hambantota port and the Mattala airport will boost sea and air operations in the country.
The Hambantota port, a landmark project launched with an investment of US$ 450 million is expected to boost the port and shipping industries in the country.The port is constructed by China Harbour Engineering Company.
The new port, one of the largest and deepest in the region will help relieve pressure on the Colombo port and provide services to vessels on route.
Samaraweera said that a policy for shipping is essential to regulate and harness the full potential of the shipping industry. A shipping policy which includes upgrading the passenger vessel terminal and its services, adjusting the port charges to be competitive, revising terminal handling charges, fast tracking port infrastructure development and transforming the conventional cargo handling system was formulated last year by the Ministry of Ports and Aviation through an initiative of NCCSL.
“Sea to air and air to sea operations could be developed with the opening of the port and airport in the South. The ports and aviation sector should look into expanding the Katunayake airport” Samaraweera said.
The first vessel is expected to call at the Hambantota port this month beginning a new chapter in the port sector of the country.
The new port which has changed the landscape of the country will provide jobs to a large number of people and boost the local economy.
The port will provide facilities such as bunkering, maintenance, logistics, buying provisions and medical supplies.