By Supun Dias and Thushantha Jayatilaka
Uncertai nties are looming about the deadline for the completion of the first terminal of the Colombo South Port, with Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) Chairman publicly saying that the completion of the terminal might get delayed by about 18 months.
Dr.Wickrama said this delivering the 10th P.B Kandewela Memorial Lecture last week at the Ceylon Continental Hotel without disclosing reasons for such a delay.
However, later when the DM Business contacted Dr.Wickrama to obtain a clarification over the matter, he said "There is no delay on our part and the break water is nearing completion. In terms of the terminal construction I cannot comment on behalf of the consortium."
The construction and operation of the terminal have been awarded to a consortium led by Aitken Spence and China Merchant Holdings. Sri Lanka Ports Authority is expected build the necessary infrastructure such as the break water, dredging, roads and buildings.
When contacted Dr. Parakrama Dissanayake, Head of Aitken Spence Shipping told the DM Business "all milestones in the Letter of Intent (LoI) have been achieved.
We are on track and accordingly work is in progress for the new south port terminal. But I can't comment on behalf of SLPA's part".
The Colombo South Harbour project is due to be completed in the year 2012 with a handling capacity of 2.4 million Total Equivalent Units (TEU). The initial infrastructure work is estimated to cost over US $300 million. Meanwhile the government is going ahead of time with the Magampura Port Development Project as it has reached the second phase.
Bunkering operations are to commence in May this year while tenders will be called shortly to build a large dockyard.
According to shipping industry experts the newly built Hambantota Port with all its planned logistics related operations is likely to overshadow the importance of Colombo Port to some extent.
As the work continues in the south harbour, both parties claim that the work on the project is on target. However the reality seems to be that no party will take responsibility if this project is not completed on time.