Western countries showing interest in controversial Sri Lankan port

Western countries are showing interest in the controversial Hambantota Port which was earlier seen as a threat to the region.

Tissa Wickramasinghe, COO of Hambantota International Port Group (HIPG) said the keen interest shown by western countries was very encouraging

“We can see great potential and future opportunities opening up for our product and service mix,” Wickramasinghe said.

HIP’s attractive location and open culture has facilitated a number of visits and inspection tours by high level commercial and trade delegations from different parts of the world including the US, UK, Japan and France.

Earlier there were concerns the Chinese funded port will be used by the Chinese military to establish a base in the country.

A delegation from the two day Colombo International Logistics Conference (CILC) held during the first week of August, visited the Hambantota Port recently.

The high-ranking delegation representing several nationalities from across the globe, included Dr. Vincent Valentine, Transport Economist from UNCTAD UK, Dr. Andreia Theil, Head of Corporate Strategy, Port of Hamburg, Lutz M Birke, Director General for Port Innovation, Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg and Shash M. Mahboob, Director of foreign Industries, Int. Development Authority of Bangladesh.

The Group’s visit was to assess HIP’s investment potential and other benefits the port can offer its callers.

“The port is being developed, incorporating our core values such as health and safety, good governance and transparency.  Our objective is to ensure that HIP meets the highest international standards.  As this is a new port destination on the commercial maritime map, we are well aware that we can benchmark standards and processes,” Wickramasinghe says.

With a land area earmarked for port related industry, HIP will support various export development zones being planned for the south of the island.

“Our plans are to position HIP as a gateway port for the south of Sri Lanka, which is very doable with the well developed and developing road infrastructure in the country. We also plan to become the next transshipment hub, which would complement the Colombo port and add to the country’s overall port portfolio,” says Ray Ren, CEO of HIPG.

“The recent Colombo International Logistics Conference, addressed many important issues in regard to broadening the scope of this region. With the number of ports coming up and already earmarked to be developed in the country and the region, we can see synergies amongst our local ports, that will not compete but complement each other.  The region itself needs to look at developing as one, in order to become the beacon that would attract investment from other regions. This would not only accelerate regional growth of the industry, but help to further boost worldwide commerce and trade,” Ren says.

HIP provides a variety of services from container handling, general cargo, RORO, passenger, bunkering, bulk terminal, gas to project cargo.  It is well on its way to becoming one of a kind, as the only port in the country, designed to handle the full gamut of services in the maritime and logistics area. HIP plans to present economically efficient and environmentally sound incentive benefits and port services to all port users and stakeholders.

HIP is a Public Private Partnership (PPP) entered into between the SLPA, and global port operator CMPort. Being under the CMPort umbrella is an added advantage for HIP in establishing world standards, as the global port operator brings a wealth of knowledge sharing, and expertise to their local partner.


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