- Cabinet nod to operate ECT as 100% State-run container terminal
- Instead offers West Container Terminal toIndia and Japan for 35 years
The Cabinet of Ministers this week approved a proposal to operate the East Container Terminal (ECT) of the Colombo Port as a wholly owned container terminal of State-run Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA), shifting away from an earlier position to operate the terminal with India and Japan with SLPA holding 51 percent stake in the operations.
However, it has been decided to operate the proposed West Container Terminal (WCT) of the Port of Colombo as a public — private partnership (PPP), between the nominated Indian and Japanese parties and SLPA in compliance with the Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) signed for ECT in 2019 by the previous regime.
The Minister of Ports & Shipping Rohitha Abeygunawardena tabled the proposal for Cabinet approval based on the recommendations of the negotiating committee appointed to evaluate the investment proposal submitted by India’s Adani Group in accordance with MOC provisions.
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on Monday assured the trade unions that SLPA would run ECT as a 100 percent State-operated terminal while noting that the “foreign company” did not agree to the proposals made by the negotiating committee.
Consequently, the trade unions called off the ‘work to rule’ campaign launched by them against the involvement of the Indian investor in ECT operations.
Responding to Prime Minister Rajapaksa’s remarks on Monday, the Indian High Commission in Colombo urged the Sri Lankan government to abide by the trilateral MOC signed among governments of Sri Lanka, India and Japan in May 2019.
“The commitment of Government of Sri Lanka in this regard has been conveyed several times in the recent past, including at the leadership level. The Sri Lankan Cabinet also took a decision three months ago to implement the project with foreign investors. All sides should continue to abide by the existing understandings and commitments,” an Indian High Commission in Colombo said.
Meanwhile, the Government Information Department noted that the government is offering to operate and jointly develop the proposed WCT with nominated parties from India and Japan, for a 35-year period.
The proposed WCT is expected to add 3 million TEUs to the Port of Colombo. However, the planning and construction of the proposed terminal is yet to be undertaken.