Sri Lanka’s GBP226m (US$353m) deep sea port at Magampura harbour, Hambantota, on the south coast of the island has been officially opened with the ceremonial docking of the first vessel to use the port facilities.
Phase one of the port, operated by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority and completed in August this year ahead of the scheduled completion in April 2011, is an integral part of the Government’s programme of economic action and reconstruction of transport and trade infrastructure after the successful conclusion of the three decade-long struggle against the Tamil Tigers terrorism campaign. It lies at the heart of a strategy to make Sri Lanka an import/export, marine services and transhipment hub at the locus of key worldwide shipping routes.
The port is located just 10 nautical miles from one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, used by up to 200 vessels every day, and can handle vessels of up to 100,000 dwt.
The 2,000 hectares of land immediately surrounding the new port is to be developed as a dedicated investment and industrial zone, with 65 domestic and international investor businesses having already expressed an interest. It is anticipated that, once phase two of the Hambantota port project is completed in April 2011, the port will provide 40% of Government income by 2020 and create 10,000 direct and over 60,000 indirect new job opportunities.
Further government expansion of, and investment in, modern port facilities is underway at Galle, Oluvil, Trincomalee, Kankasanthurai and Colombo.