Adani Group, John Keells Holdings and the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) have signed a 35-year build-operate-transfer (BOT) agreement worth more than US$700m to jointly develop Colombo West International Container Terminal (CWICT) at the Port of Colombo.
The new deep-water terminal will add 3m teu in annual capacity to the leading transhipment hub in South Asia.
The transaction value makes this the largest ever investment in Sri Lanka’s port sector.
According to the state-owned SLPA, the development will enhance Colombo’s reputation as an international hub port, strengthening cooperation between regional economies.
Earlier in the year, the partners signed a letter of intent that entailed developing the terminal to have a 1,400 m quay and an alongside depth of 20 m.
At the time, Karan Adani, CEO of Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone (APSEZ), said: “Any port partnership is a validation of the mutual trust between two nations and in this context the West Container Terminal partnership is significant on several fronts.
“It is a continuation of the deep and mutually beneficial strategic relationship between two neighbouring nations whose history is deeply intertwined.”
The announcement in March followed a protracted political dispute where it appeared that India and Japan would partly own Colombo’s East Container Terminal, another new deep-water facility at the port.
However, the Sri Lankan government decided to keep the facility in its hands, leading to speculation it had irked the Indian government.
This preceded the decision to award Adani the contract for CWICT, bringing an Indian operator into Colombo for the first time.
As much as 65% of Colombo’s total annual cargo either originates or is destined for India, leading the emerging power to have a keen interest in running operations in Colombo.