The new terminals, at the ongoing Colombo Port Expansion Project - launched to develop Colombo South Harbor, is to be operational by August next year adding 7.5 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit (TEU) capacity after completion of the third stage, the Chairman of Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA), Dr. Priyath B.Wickrama announced recently. Delivering the keynote address on the subject of ‘Modern Container Terminals’ at the Sea Trade Middle East Maritime Conference held in Dubai, the SLPA Chief said that the Authority will also call tenders for the West Container Terminal, in the near future depending on requirement.
“The terminals will be operational by August 2013 with latest equipments. East Container Terminal will be operated by Sri Lanka Ports Authority and South Container Terminal to be operated by Colombo International Container Terminals on BOT basis,” Dr. Wickrema said.
The new Port will consist of three 1,200 meter long container terminals with 3 main berths per each terminal to handle mega container carriers. The dredged depth of up to -20 meters in the 265 hectare basin allowing to turn +450 m LOA vessels.
While Colombo Port is being developed mainly with container terminals, a modern port has been constructed in Hambantota which is about 10 nautical miles away from the shipping route from the East to the West. The port will provide world class infrastructure facilities for break bulk, bulk and other service operations.
“Conventional cargo presently handled at Colombo Port will be diverted to Phase I & II of Mahinda Rajapaksa Port Hambantota, with the conversion of some of the general cargo berths in Colombo as container feeder berths. Such diversion of other operations to Hambantota will create more facilities for container handling at the Colombo Port,” the SLPA Chief told participants at the conference.
He noted that SLPA has been able to maintain higher productivity levels in all terminal activities with the added capacity and capabilities of the current Port of Colombo.
“Our fleet of equipment has been strengthened by adding modern equipment such as 08 Quay Gantry Cranes with 04 Twin Lift Cranes, 30 new Transfer Cranes with high stacking capability, 50 Terminal Tractors and a new Feeder Berth to improve the feedering network via Colombo and also with the addition of new equipment and yard space we have added close to 600,000 TEU annual capacity. We have spent approximately US$ 200 million only to upgrade these facilities,” he further pointed out.
Speaking on challenges faced by terminal operators, Dr. Wickrema said, “The greatest challenge is the new wave of larger vessels as Shipping Lines add larger vessels to their fleets and call only at limited number of terminals to keep down their transport cost, putting terminals under pressure to provide deeper draught berthing facilities to accommodate larger vessels”.
“Mainline container services have been ramping up the size and capacity of container ships from cellular ships of around 1,500 TEUs to ultra large container ships of approximately 16,000 TEUs today. However, orders have been placed for more than 20,000 TEUs capacity VLCCs capable of stacking 24 containers across the deck. Such larger vessels will be used to achieve economies of scale,” he added.