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Sri Lankan government to expand local ports in export drive

Sri Lankan government to expand local ports in export drive
Jayantha Samaraweera, state minister of container warehouse facilities, container yards, port facilities, and boat and shipping industry development

The Sri Lankan government will expand the ports of Galle, Trincomalee and Kankesanthurai in an effort to accommodate a potential increase in exports to both regional and global destinations.

Jayantha Samaraweera, state minister of container warehouse facilities, container yards, port facilities, and boat and shipping industry development, told local media that the expansions would be useful as the ports of Colombo and Hambantota could face future congestion.

He noted that one of the government’s top priorities is to use the rail network to transport containers, with the aim to ease the congestion in the city of Colombo as well as outstations and the immediate Colombo suburbs.

This rail strategy was a proposal conceived by the Strategic Enterprise Development Agency (SEMA) around two decades ago.

Another area of interest is the development of warehouses in the Colombo suburbs such as Ratmalana and Peliyagoda and outstations such as Veyangoda, Kurunegala and Deniyaya.

Samaraweera added that the network will boost the storage of exportable products until they are transported to reach their due destinations.

These warehouses will be able to accommodate containers that are transported via rail, which will also reduce transport costs and transit times.

Coconuts and value-added coconut-based products would be stored in these warehouses ahead of being exported.

Similarly, tea and value-added products, manufactured from the teas grown by small holders in the Southern belt such as Deniyaya, Elpitiya, Galle and others could be stored within the warehouses there.

These products could then be exported from Galle Port without having to go through the inconvenience of being transported to Colombo, according to the minister.

He further noted that the construction of these warehouses will be done on the basis of Private-Public Sector Partnerships (PPP) in which the private sector component could be even Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) or originating from the local private sector.

Samaraweera also explained that the boat industry will be developed on a three-fold basis, catering for the tourism industry, local transport industry and for export. This will be done via PPP investments where private sector partnerships can include foreign investments.