Indian companies declined to construct H’tota Port – UNP

* Due to questions over financial viability,investment returns

* Wisdom of reducing SL’s size through inland excavation questioned


by Zacki Jabbar

Indian companies had refused to undertake the construction of the Magampura Mahinda Rajapaka Port in Hambantota, the first phase of which alone had cost USD 508 million, as its financial viability was in question, the UNP said yesterday.

Queries remained over the conduct of proper studies and evaluations to determine the suitability of the Port location as well as the expected returns justifying the investments and help to service the loans and interest. It would have greatly influenced Indian companies to turn down an offer given on a platter, R. Yograjan one of the five UNP MPs who visited the Port last month on a fact finding mission said. The other MPs were Ajith P. Perera, Eran Wickramaratne, Ajith Mannamperuma and Nalin Bandara.

Sri Lanka, being a small Island nation, had a dearth of land and in such a scenario, it defied comprehension why an inland port had been built, MP Yogarajan said.

The timing of the investment in the port was also highly questionable given the ongoing expansion of the Colombo Port, the MP said, noting that the Colombo Port was aiming to increase its container handling capacity from 4 million TEUs to 8.1 million TEUs by 2015 and the expansion of the Magampura Port business from the present handling of vehicles to bulk cargo would take considerable time.

The quay length was designed to accommodate three ships alongside but was devoid of requisite Gantry Cranes etc. to handle cargo or containers as in other harbours, Yogarajan said. The port had handled less than one ship per day on average in the preceding 12 month period. Vessels carrying vehicles here or trans-shipment of vehicles manufactured in South East Asia on the way to destinations in the African continent called on Hambantota, he said. At present, that port could not handle any cargo except vehicles, Yogarajan pointed out.

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