Hambantota Port confident of losing white elephant tag

The Hambantota Port, which was once labelled as a “white elephant” project is confident of making big gains in the months to come.

Hambantota International Port (HIP), was a key participant at ‘Transport Logistics 2019’ the world’s premier transport and logistics exhibition held in Munich, Germany last week.

The port, which is the newest addition to the international maritime map, was an important feature at the prestigious exposition of international logistical services which had 2,374 exhibitors and around 64,000 visitors from all over the world attending.

The Sri Lankan delegation, of which Hambantota International Port Group (HIPG) representatives were a part of, held several high-powered meetings with decision makers of Germany’s leading logistics and engineering companies. Hellmann Worldwide Logistics, Hapag-Lloyd, Hamburg Port Consulting, Siemens Digital Logistics business, DHL, DB Schenker and Kuehne + Nagel were some of the top level players they met with.

The Lankan delegation who attended the meetings, was headed by Minister of Ports, Shipping and Southern Development Sagala Ratnayake while the HIPG team was led by veteran shipping executive, Tissa Wickramasinghe, Chief Operating Officer of HIPG.

In a statement today, the port said it is well on its way to becoming one of a kind in Sri Lanka, as it is the only port in the country designed to handle a wide range of services in the maritime and logistics fields.

HIP which has been gearing for ease of doing business for a while now, recently partnered with the Sri Lanka’s Board of Investment to establish a one-stop service centre within the port premises. The centre provides facilitation services, including the granting of investment concessions to prospective investors.

HIP which is a Public Private Partnership (PPP) entered into between the SLPA, and global port operator CMPort has not only doubled its RORO services, but has diversified its services to include a number of port related activities such as container handling, general cargo, passenger, bunkering, bulk terminal gas and project cargo. HIPG has signed TSA’s with several leading ro-ro shipping lines, and is well on its way to becoming one of a kind in Sri Lanka.

In addition to its maritime services, the port has drawn a master plan to become a logistics hub in the region, with warehouses, storage areas, and distribution centers being set up within its premises. This location is ideally suited not only because of its strategic position on the maritime map, but also owing to the approximately 3.5 square kilometers of vast land area, dedicated for port-related industries. An additional 50 square kilometers of land just outside the port perimeter is allocated for an industrial zone, and investments by the GOSL, in utility infrastructure and highway connectivity to the area is already underway.

This maritime and logistics hub is intended to serve as a catalyst to develop a logistics centered economy. HIP will be the only port in the country, designed to handle a full gamut of services in the maritime and logistics area. Once construction of basic facilities and other infrastructure are in place, the second stage of building standardised warehouses and attracting high value-added industries will begin, followed by upstream, middle and downstream industries in the final phase of the industrial park, which may include food processing and automobile services, amongst others.

HIP is also the only port in the region to supply bunkering facilities to ships calling at the port, and those moving on sea lanes, with IMO-compliant low Sulphur fuel oil. The Hambantota International Port Group has already entered into an agreement with global giant Sinopec who will be their strategic bunkering partner. Located between Singapore and Fujairah the number one and two bunker suppliers to the world respectively, HIP is well placed to exploit the potential of this trade.

The Hambantota International Port is positioned to be the one-stop logistics platform that caters to all, offering an integrated package that could be tailor made to their customers’ needs. Reinforced by Hambantota’s geographic location, the port offers an unparalleled experience of air and sea connectivity.  In order to achieve these goals, HIP has taken into consideration, their close proximity to the Mattala airport and built processes for air-sea cargo movement.

The Hambantota Port is in line with the national vision for port development in Sri Lanka and responds to the SLPA’s future growth plans for a modern port, free of urban restrictions, assuring long-term expansion capacity and a world standard industrial and logistics zone. A platform that can receive main players of port, maritime, industrial and logistics sectors, that adhere to the highest standards of integrity.

The Sri Lankan economy is entering a new phase in its development strategies where PPPs are being taken on to synergise the country’s approach to meeting market challenges.  HIPG is of the belief that these new policies will unlock investments in the micro, small and medium sized sectors, which will indirectly promote a trickledown effect into the larger economy which would in turn have a direct impact on growth, job opportunities and ultimately prosperity for the nation. (Colombo Gazette)

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