Saturday, November 20, 2010

New Freight And Passenger Port For Indian Ocean

Magampura Opens with a Flourish
Shipping News Feature

SRI LANKA – With much ceremony the deep water port, Magampura, formally known as 'Magama Ruhunupura Mahinda Rajapaksa’, was opened this week by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The new port is situated in Hambantota province, family home of the President so not a great surprise to students of the country’s politics. The President made a lengthy speech at the inauguration including speaking of his government’s aim to develop a total of five international ports over the next few years with the avowed intent to make Sri Lanka a strategic ocean freight and passenger link between Asia and Europe.

The new facility, to be operated by the Sri Lanka Port Athority, has a 1 kilometre jetty and a 17 metre channel and initially will principally handle cement imports and transhipments plus there are plans for a gas terminal. The government claim the port will create 10,000 direct jobs with a further 60,000 additional jobs from spin off business and say that some 40% of government revenue will come from the port by 2020, but these figures vary wildly dependant on which government source you rely on.

The port was constructed entirely by the Chinese in the form of the China Harbour Engineering Company with a reported cost of around $360 million. The President, who commenced his second term of office this week, is well supported by the majority of the population but reporting restrictions and the imprisonment of General Fonseca, former army boss, on corruption charges, something the president has also been previously accused of, may make overseas long term investors a little wary.

The first stage having now opened work continues to complete the next phase by April 2011, and, when completed will feature cargo and container handling, warehousing, bunkering plus a passenger terminal and Freeport facilities.

Photo: President Mahinda Rajapaksa welcomes the first ship containing Buddhist monks blessing the new port.