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Scandal over new container terminal at Hambantota

Scandal over new container terminal at Hambantota

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Colombo: The Sri Lankan shipping industry is aghast at the news that not a single shipping line has as yet signed up to call at the Hambantota Container Terminal, which is soon to be thrown open for business at the Magampura Mahinda Rajapakse port at Hambantota.

The port, developed at the southernmost tip of the island nation during the reign of former President Rajapakse, has thus far been used mainly for automobile imports and sundry dry cargo handling. The box terminal is to be opened upon completion of the second phase of the port’s development.

At a time when ex-President Rajapakse is being questioned by the Bribery Commission over several of the decisions he took in the closing years of his reign, the shipping industry points outs that there is no justification in building a container terminal in Hambantota, particularly when Colombo South Harbour offers the deepest draft in the region, of 18.5 m.

South Harbour will soon have a 2.4m teu capacity East Terminal, to add to the already operational Colombo International Container Terminal of an identical capacity.

“The Hambantota Container Terminal looks on course to becoming another major white elephant in the future, adding another major financial burden to the Sri Lankan economy,” a senior member of the Sri Lankan shipping community told Splash.

“When the idea of building Hambantota port was first mooted, an argument in favour was that over 250 vessels could be seen on the horizon there, and at least 10% of those would call at the port to obtain services. However this has not materialised”.

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Shirish Nadkarni

Shirish Nadkarni is a management consultant and freelance international journalist, who has been writing on all spheres of Indian business for the past three decades for a number of reputed overseas publications. An avid sportsman, Nadkarni has represented India in international veterans' badminton since 1997, and was the 55+ age group doubles world champion in 2005.

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