The second international sea port in Sri Lanka, Magam Ruhunupura Mahinda Rajapaksa Port (MRMRP) in Hambantota has received 100 vessels since it opened for berthing in November 2010, Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) said.
This would mean, at least 76 vessels would have called at the new port during the first 7-8 months this year. Based on SLPA statistics, this is s significant improvement as the port had received only 24 vessels by the end of last December, according to the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) Annual Report.
The COPE report released this July revealed that the port built at an investment of more than US $ 361 million (only the first phase) had received only 6 vessels in 2011 and 18 vessels in 2012.
The 100th vessel called at the port this month was an Automobile Carrier MV “Istra Ace” owned by Mitsui OSK Line. This is its maiden call at the Hambantota port.
“The position of the port and the services rendered are of the highest quality. The expansion to be taken place with the oncoming massive development activities around this port, which include free zones providing tax havens and bunkering facilities, is sure to realize a long term dream of the vessels sailing in the Indian Ocean, and those involved in the field of Supply Chain Management as well,” said the Master of the vessel Capt. Bochkaryov Sergiy.
According to SLPA, t he port i n Hambantota will predominantly operate as a transshipment port and last year it announced all vessels carrying motor vehicles, except heavy vehicles, would be directed to MRMRP in an apparent bid to increase the ship traffic at the port citing berthing delays and space constraints at port of Colombo.
In July, the President declared four ports including Hambantota as Free Ports to lure foreign investments with very attractive tax incentives extended to port users. Port users will be waived off of rent and lease charges, all additional levies except of port handling.
At the same time, some raised concerns over the ability of the government to meet the rising foreign debt obligations by extending significant incentives.
According to the COPE report, the annual interest payable by the SLPA on MRMRP amounts to: Rs.2, 208 million (2012), Rs.2,479 million (2013), Rs.2,233 million (2014), Rs.1,987 million (2015) and Rs.1,742 million (2016).
Nevertheless, SLPA said it had attracted approximately US $ 700 million foreign direct investments from commercial ventures at the port oremises.
“These achievements are encouraging outputs of the efficient services extended by the port, resulted from the implementation of the strategic port operation procedures by SLPA in the ports of Sri Lanka”, said the SLPA Chairman, Dr. Priyath B. Wickrama.