Hambantota Port: An Occasional Traveller’s Benign View

Susiri Weerasekera

Just yesterday 20th April 2014, we visited the Hambantota harbor. Photo shows the rows of cars- metallic or white to be transshipped  due next day. Can count about 400 vehicles for reshipment. The other vehicles loosely parked further to the left are for the locals. DSC02489 Many hundreds of ships have come in so far transhipping. A ship can load or down load about 500 vehicles in half a day and leave. Some ships with up to 5000 thousand may need to remain around three days. There is a body of permanent driver staff that are kept busy off loading and loading vehicles on to the next ship. So far thousands of vehicles have been transhipped in over a couple of hundred or more ships. A far lesser number down loaded are for the local market, Colombo port being more central and economical for that. DSC02488The next ship due was next day. Pity we could not wait. Two transport ships can be served at the jetty that is visible, and another vessel can be served for bunkering- fuel etc further on to the right not shown here. The harbour is 212 acres — 1/4th of a sq mile. 12000 acres of land around- 14 sq miles, are ready for future expansion that will go on for 10 years, ……  more or less depending on the profitability and need. At present there is no doubt that progress is rapid, after the initial slow start. Look at the hub position of the harbour in map. Indian, Japanese and other Far East countries are using it, an Indian vessel being the first to do so last year. DSC02503 In the mid 1990s P&O did a feasibility study on the Hambantota harbor and found it non feasible. Horaage amma! So much for the naysayers. The idea to create the harbour within land had been by the famous engineer Kulasinghe. Promoted by the southern development authority almost to fruition over 15 years ago, suddenly brought to a full stop by the visit of  a single Chinese man from Singapore. It lay dormant till MR got going. The construction was by Chinese firm. And the Colombo harbour too with that 6 Km jetty  expanding it  6 times is already functional! The new section too being built by Chinese over the past few years. Reduced delays. Most ships leaving within a day. Grumbles are beginning to come from harbour workers bereft of overtime and other lazy perks. Remember, there were no takers for these developments of harbor in the past.

A Shippy New Year to all Sri Lankans.

Susiri W

ADDENDUM:Hambantota Phase Two …,” Daily News, 24 April 2014, http://www.dailynews.lk/?q=local/hthota-phase-ii-eyes-suez-shipping-route

A 2,140 metre long quay for six births, an oil terminal with a depth of minus 17 metres and a length of 300 metres, an artificial island of 50 hectares with a top elevation of eight metres, a fly-over bridge and roads and yards will be among the key features of phase 11 of the Magam Ruhunupura Mahinda Rajapaksa Port that will be commissioned in January 2016.

The Port of Hambantota, also known as ‘Magampura’ is about 19 nautical miles north of the key shipping route between the straits of Malacca and the Suez Canal, which links Asia and Europe. An estimated 36,000 ships including 4,500 oil tankers use this route annually.

“The artificial island is being constructed by dumping soil removed from the harbour basin. The island will be used as a tourist attraction as it will afford a panoramic view since it is constructed in the sea just away from the coastal belt. Restaurants, shopping areas, hotel facilities will be available on the island,” Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) Chairman Dr. Priyath Bandu Wickrama said.

Under phase II of the project which is in rapid progress and targeted to be completed by the end of next year, the basin excavation will be done up to minus 17 metres with a turning circle of 600 metres diametre while the approach channel will be dredged up to 18 metres.

“The construction of the second phase is in full swing after signing of the contract agreement by officials of the SLPA and China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd. Funding for the project was through a loan from the government of the People’s Republic of China on concessionary terms,” the SLPA Chairman said.

Phase II will further include, providing of all yard handling equipment and development of a yard area of 60 hectares adjacent to the quay wall. According to the chairman, two new cranes will be fixed at MRMRP allowing container handling facilities. “These two cranes will reach the country by the end of May. The cranes will be ready for container handling by June,” the chairman said.

Meanwhile, the SLPA has recorded an increase in container volumes handled at the Colombo Port in 2013. Accordingly, the SLPA recorded a growth of 12.3 percent, 20 foot equivalent units (TEUs) in transhipment operations during the last year. The SLPA has handled a total transhipment volume of 1,779,882 TEUs in 2013 compared to 1,584,985 TEUs handled in 2012. SLPA’s operations statistics further show that the SLPA has shown a 1.8 percent growth in domestic operations in 2013 compared to 2012.

– See more at: http://www.dailynews.lk/?q=local/hthota-phase-ii-eyes-suez-shipping-route#sthash.PW2Pszkq.dpuf

Hamban island

PS: It should be namedHamban Sampan Dhupatha” — Editor.



Filed under economic processes, growth pole, island economy, patriotism, performance, politIcal discourse, Rajapaksa regime, slanted reportage, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, transport and communications, world affairs

2 responses to “Hambantota Port: An Occasional Traveller’s Benign View

  1. Susiri had been discretely watchful of the happenings in Sri Lanka as he traverses the country often visiting Jaffna and other parts. I have had the privilege to read some of his stuff. His account is unique because it is apolitical and provides a overview–a bird’s eye view that is authentic. Thanks to the editor for picking this up.
    Philip Fernando Los Angekesperhaps the

  2. Pingback: Dr Susiri Weerasekera: A Man for All Seasons | Thuppahi's Blog

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