With the construction of the first phase of the South container terminal project nearing completion, the first berth will open up for ship traffic starting July, enabling the Colombo port to accommodate mega vessels that was not possible before, a top Sri Lanka Ports Authority official said.
This will be followed by the opening up of the second berth in December and the third in April 2014, bringing the entire South container terminal project into operation.
“With the first berth becoming operational, Colombo port will come into the picture as a port which can handle ultra-large container carriers. These are also called EEE ships which can carry up to 18,000 Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (intermodal shipping container) – TEUs,” said General Manager – Marketing & Commercial of Colombo Inter national Container Terminals Limited (CICT), Tissa Wickramasinghe, speaking on the side lines of the Ports, Trade and Logistics conference organized by Seatrade, a consultancy and Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA).
At present, the depth of the existing terminals of the Colombo port is 15 meters and it restricts these ultra-large carriers berthing in. However with the first berth coming into operation, it will enable the port to attract ultra-large carriers as its depth will be 18 meters.
Meanwhile CICT CEO, Yunshu Liu was also quoted as saying in a news website that the company was to start discussions shortly with potential customers once their tariffs were finalized.
The entire South terminal consist of three berths with 1,200 meter length with a minimum depth of 18 meters to facilitate mega vessels from shipping lines such as Maersk which can carry up to 18,000 TEUs.
South container terminal project once completed will be able to handle 2.4 million TEUs in addition to the 4.18 million TEUs handled by the existing terminals from 2012.
The 400 meter length first berth will be the very first sub-project to be completed under the South container terminal project kicked off in December 16, 2011 under the 35-year long Build-Operate-Transfer agreement signed between CICT, a joint venture between Hong Kong listed China Merchant Holdings (International) and Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA).