Colombo, Nov 28 (IANS): Sri Lanka’s new Minister of Roads, Highways, Ports and Shipping Johnston Fernando has said that the new government aims to expedite the development of the East Container Terminal (ECT) of the Colombo Port in order to boost container throughput.
During a meeting at the Ports Ministry auditorium here, Fernando asked port officials to submit detailed reports on the action that should be taken to develop the ECT. He said that development of the terminal was crucial for increasing container throughput and maintaining Colombo Port’s status as a hub of the Indian Ocean, Efe news reported.
Earlier, while assuming office as a Cabinet Minister on November 25, Fernando said talks have been held with the business community about fast-tracking the construction of the ECT.
“A port is similar to the heart of a country. Therefore, as the port sector plays a crucial role in posting positive statistics for a country’s economy, our administration is primarily focused on improving efficiency to ensure expansion of the sector,” he told the media.
In May 2019, the Sri Lankan government signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) with Japan and India to jointly develop the ECT. According to the agreement, the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) will retain 100 per cent ownership of the ECT while the administration will be handled by a jointly owned Terminal Operations Company (TOC) in which the Sri Lanka Ports Authority will hold a 51 per cent stake.
The first phase of the ECT was completed with a US $80 million loan from the Bank of Ceylon (BOC) in 2015. The second phase of development is expected to be financed by a proposed $500 million loan from Japan.