Colombo Port ahead of other ports in region, says expert | Sunday Observer

Colombo Port ahead of other ports in region, says expert

The Colombo Port is much ahead of the other ports in the region and is the top most port in the Indian Ocean handling transshipment container, being ranked 25 in world rankings.

The nearest is the Jawaharlal Nehru Port in Mumbai which is being ranked 32, a ports and maritime expert said.

However, the stakeholders of the Port of Colombo cannot remain complacent and be doing nothing to improve it further, he said.

‘There is much to be done to improve ship building, ship repairs, bunkering and ancillary services since our geographical position in the best in the region and we need to take advantage of it,” Director Pathfinder Foundation Admiral (Dr) Jayanath Colombage said.

He said we have failed to make best use of the location for the betterment of the maritime industry and be ahead of the rest of the ports. We need to have a vision as to where we want to be in five, 10 and 15 years time and to achieve the benchmarks there has to be a clear and stable vision, strategy and authority. “There are many agencies such as one for shipping, ports, the Coastal Conservation department, marine environment protection, petroleum resources exploitation, the Sri Lanka Customs and emigration which need to be brought under one umbrella similar to the operation in Singapore and Australia,” Dr. Colombage said.

The private sector has been lobbying for new legislation to set up a maritime authority since the existing Merchant Shipping Act of 1971 is old.

“We need to walk the talk if we are to achieve the transshipment hub status for the port and do it fast as other ports in the region including India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are moving fast,” Dr. Colombage said.

Ports and maritime experts at a recent forum in Colombo warned that Sri Lanka hasn’t the luxury of wasting time in transforming the ports and shipping industry to be a global port operator when others in the region are progressing leaps and bounds.

SLPA Chairman Dr. Parakrama Dissanayake underscored the importance of setting up a maritime promotion bureau to position Sri Lanka’s potential for maritime businesses in the region. He also noted that Sri Lanka will have to be ready to accommodate larger vessels calling the Port of Colombo which will terminals with deeper draft