Hambantota port feasibility study rejected

A ministerial task force appointed to review a feasibility study on the proposed Hambantota sea port says "the study is not bankable and is not a full feasibility study."

The task force headed by ports authority technical advisor G. P. Weerasinghe included Prof. Samantha Hettiarachchi (Moratuwa University), Ajith Abeysekera (Deputy Director, Dept. of National Planning), Janaka Kurukulasuriya (Deputy Chief Engineer SLPA) and S. A. Abeysiriwardene (Superintendent Engineer, SLPA).

We revealed the valueless of this feasibility study in our lead story ‘No funds for H’tota port-Hakeem’ on October 10, 2003. We quoted Ports Minister Rauff Hakeem at a ministry consultative committee saying "the feasibility study is useless and is not acceptable to the government."

The following is the report prepared by the task force:

The Task Force appointed by the Ministry of Port Development and Shipping reviewed the final report of the bankable feasibility study for the development of a sea port in Hambantota provided by SNC Lavalin of Canada in keeping with the agreement signed between the SLPA and SNC Lavalin on 7th June 2002.

The committee analysed the report in respect of the requirements identified in the agreement. Its annexes and the Terms of Reference with special emphasis on the degree to which these requirements have been fulfilled in the final report. The results are summarized in the attached Table.

At the outset it is noted that the final report provided is not bankable and is not a full feasibility study. The consultant has stated accordingly and is orienting the conclusion towards seeking a decision from the Government of Sri Lanka in respect of a phase II study.

The committee wishes to highlight that the objective of drawing up a Grand Master Plan by studying the physical data of the entire terrain that envelops Hambantota has also not been achieved and a proposal has been forwarded for an area where data to some extent was obtainable.

Additionally the Consultant has identified container operations as a necessity for the first stage of development of the port in Hambantota. However the impact of such a decision on current facilities for container handling in Colombo has not been addressed. This is of concern as transshipment container traffic is volatile and could even by pass Sri Lanka if right forward plans to meet their ever increasing demands are not in place in time. As such all aspects of characteristics associated with the movement of container traffic internationally need careful analysis before recommending such a decision.

There seems to be an error when the report states that the 20 meter contour is less than 0.5 from the coastline as the 20 meter contour lies around 1.6 km from the coastline. The volume of rock excavation identified as 16.5 million cubic metres is a major concern rock removal of the Galle outer harbour development project is only 13,725 cubic metres.