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Lanka can become maritime hub in the region – CASA

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Sri Lanka can become a maritime hub in the region, which will contribute immensely towards resetting the economy contributing immensely towards Sri Lanka’s foreign exchange issue.

Sri Lanka is strategically located where the busy East-West shipping route passes just six to 10 nautical miles south of the island and more than 70,000 ships ply this route annually, carrying two-thirds of the CASA says several areas needed to be addressed soon to achieve this goal and identified infrastructure as a main Point towards this.

“The port of Colombo has seen a steady rise in volumes over the past few years and is now reaching its optimum operating capacity. It is vital that the East container terminal is fully operationalized and the development of the West Container terminal is completed soon.”

Furthermore, Sri Lanka Should look beyond the East container Terminal and should now be looking at developing the north port project and operationalizing it in phases so that there never comes a time when the Port of Colombo becomes congested leading to principals looking at alternative Ports.

“In order for us to grow our transshipment volumes, it is important that we develop capabilities to add value to transiting cargo. The availability of modern warehousing and value addition centers inside the Port, will help develop Sri Lanka’s position as an attractive Multi Country Consolidation destination.”

In the recent few weeks Sri Lanka has seen cruise lines resuming calls in Colombo; however the lack of a vibrant passenger terminal discourages operators from increasing calls to the Port of Colombo.

“As the world moves away from the C-19, many tourists are looking to spend their time on cruise tourism. If Sri Lanka could attract these cruise operators to call Sri Lanka it would boost the Sri Lankan economy by bringing in much needed tourists and foreign exchange.”

Another aspect that should be looked at for the Port of Colombo to stay relevant is operational efficiency.

“The use of technology such as berthing management systems and automation can help position the Port of Colombo as an efficient and productive port in the region.”

Ancillary services provided to international ships is considered a ‘deemed export’ and generates significant foreign exchange to the country.

“While we focus on developing our existing export sectors such as apparel and tourism, we also need to focus on developing this sector. To develop this sector, it is important that we can offer the full range of services at competitive prices to main liners, feeders, casual callers, tankers, RORO vessels and passenger vessels.”

 This will attract more vessels that are presently obtaining these services from other Ports in Singapore and UAE.

To expanding storage capacity for bunker-fuel to be globally competitive, Sri Lanka needs to be able to import and store larger parcels of bunkers to take advantage of economies of scale. This requires increasing the storage capacity. The current storage capacity is only up to 35,000 MT. This capacity needs to at least be doubled if we are to take more than 1% share from the 50 million tons supplied in Singapore annually.

Development of modern warehousing facilities within Port limits- Sri Lanka can attract more procurement volumes of ship stores, provisions, spare parts, marine lubricants, and other supplies if we are able to provide competitive prices compared to the region.

Development of waste reception facilities- Ship waste such as slop, sludge and solids is a day to day need. We need to develop reception facilities for such waste to ensure timely collection and disposal of waste in an environmentally friendly manner. Developing emergency response services- the recent maritime disasters in Sri Lanka have shown the importance of having salvage services available in Sri Lanka.

Developing Ship layups- due to Sri Lanka’s strategic location, the Trincomalee harbour can be promoted as a favorable location for ship layups Legal infrastructure too is a key area and legal reforms too need to be in place. “Sri Lanka needs to develop specialized legal services covering the maritime and logistics sectors. Many of the laws and regulations are outdated and therefore restrict the progress of the industry.” Investing in talent development is crucial to propel the industry forwards.

“Finally, we need to Re-brand the image of Sri Lankan Seafarers and inspire young talent to join the industry by revealing the remarkable future potential. “

Sri Lanka is ranked 99th in the Ease of Doing Business Index compared to Singapore which is ranked second and this has to be improved. Policy makers need to engage with stakeholders of the industry to allow these reforms. Implementing these reforms requires collaboration between the government authorities and the private sector.

“By focusing on having the right policy and resources, Sri Lanka has tremendous potential to realize its vision of becoming a Maritime Hub in the region.”

Friday, January 13, 2023 – 01:00

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