Minister Arjuna Ranatunga | Dammika Ranatunga

The Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) last week said that the main financial challenge it will face in the New Year is to pay back the loans obtained to construct the Port of Hambantota. The loan instalment and the interest for the completed stage I and the interest charges and commitment charges for stage II being completed at present have to be paid in the year 2016, the authority said in a statement.

“Although the cost of Rs.9,000 million that has to be paid in this regard has expressed an increased pressure upon the financial flow of the Port of Colombo, plans are under way to introduce new mechanisms in 2016 to deviate the situation. Hence, implementation of a new plan of investment at the Port of Hambantota, commencement of business at the bunker facility and expansion of the RO-RO transshipment business will be considered. It is expected to minimize the pressure to the financial flow at the Port of Colombo through these procedures,” the SLPA statement noted.

Meanwhile, the SLPA said a yacht marina is being constructed to develop the Galle Port with the objective of improving the industry of tourism and travel trade in the region and to  develop new industries.

Expressing views at a recent ceremony held to mark the New Year, SLPA Chairman Dammika Ranatunga stated that the institution is by now acquiring a rapid progress. He also stated that compared to the decrease in TEU operations in the year 2015, marking Singapore at 8%, Salala 18%, Hamburg 11.7%, the growth of the Port of Colombo was marked at 5.9%. At the same time he said that the domestic operations have increased by 8.3% and  transshipment TEU operations by 5.4%.

The Chairman added that the usual productivity of Gantry cranes at the Jaya Container Terminal (JCT) of SLPA for the month of January 2015 which was 20 TEUs per hour had been increased up to 26 TEUS per hour by November 2015.

“We expect to accomplish constructions of the East Terminal, purchase machinery and other equipment to commence operations in 2016,” Ranatunga pointed out.