Sri Lanka’s president Maithripala Sirisena has said that the Port of Colombo’s East Container Terminal (ECT) will not be privatised but instead will be run by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA).
Last year, the SLPA had invited expressions of interest (EOI) from private sector firms, looking to secure a lease for ECT, but it now appears that the process is dead in the water.
Sirisena stated: “We are committed not to hand over the Eastern terminal to any party because such an action will lead to close the Sri Lanka Port Authority in another ten years.”
He added: “I will not hand over even an inch of Sri Lankan land to another country or any foreign company”.
According to ports and shipping minister Mahinda Samarasinghe, the SLPA has lost R3.4bn (US$23m) in the last two years due to the idling of ECT.
ECT will be the second deepwater terminal at the Port of Colombo, joining a facility run by Chinese state-owned operator China Merchants Holdings.
According to local media, Sri Lankan prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has given contradictory assurances that ECT will have an Indian investor to balance out regional concerns over Chinese involvement in Hambantota Port.
Sirisena additionally hit out at Sri Lanka’s previous government over its handling of the Hambantota deal as well as various land sales.