A landmark achievement
Today will go down as a red
letter day in the annals of Sri Lanka with the ceremonial occasion of
filling sea water in the harbour basin of the new Hambantota Port under
the patronage of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The construction of the Hambantota Port is indeed a landmark
achievement, signifying a new era of development under a united Sri
Lanka. Local engineers and architects designed the new port project by
carving the harbour inland, allowing 1,200 acres of land to be filled
with sea water, making it the world’s largest international harbour
More importantly, the Hambantota Port, close to the international
maritime route in the Indian Ocean, could attract about 20 sailing
vessels per day on completion of the third stage. The new Hambantota
Port is only six kilometres from the East to West and West to East
international sea lane.
The first phase of the port covers four berths of 300 metres in
length and a depth of 17 metres - 21 metres up to sea level and four
metres of free area allowing fluctuations in water level. The harbour
basin, with a 600 metre diameter, will be ceremonially filled with sea
water at a ceremony to be held today.
Many opportunistic politicians scoffed at the idea when the President
spoke about the envisaged mega development projects, similarly to what
they did when the Security Forces were engaged in the battle against
LTTE terror. Certain UNP Parliamentarians belittled our valiant
soldiers, alleging that they go to Medawachchi, claiming that they are
marching towards Kilinochchi.
When the President launched the Hambantota Port project two years
ago, many doubting Thomases said that the project would be confined to
the foundation stone stage.
They alleged that the Government was trying to gain political mileage
by launching projects which they dismissed as mere day-dreams.
Having debunked all critics, President Rajapaksa found the finances
needed for the project with assistance from China, which has been a true
and a dear friend of Sri Lanka in its battle against terrorism as well.
Political jokers who were hankering after power and criticised the
Government’s development drive ate humble pie eventually when terrorism
was eradicated under the right political leadership of the
Commander-in-Chief, President Rajapaksa.
The Government, under President Rajapaksa’s stewardship, is now
heading towards new economic horizons, completing mega development
The President, while battling against the most ruthless terror outfit
spending billions of rupees on national security, did not ignore
development. While waging the deadliest war against the LTTE, he
embarked on many gigantic development projects such as the Southern
Expressway, Moragahakanda Reservoir, Norochcholai Coal Power Plant,
Upper Kotmale Hydro Power Project, Mattala International Airport, Oluvil
Harbour, Kerawalapitiya Power Project and Hambantota Port project.
For the first time in history, a massive project to develop five
ports, including the Hambantota Port, Oluvil Port, Colombo Port
expansion, development of Galle and Trincomalee ports were launched.
The Oluvil Port which covers 1.4 kilometres will include commercial
and fisheries harbours. The Oluvil Development Project was given top
priority under the Eastern Reawakening program launched to expedite
development activities in the Eastern region.
The Oluvil Port project, launched two years ago to give a further
impetus to economic development in the Eastern region, is now on fast
track. The first phase of the project will be completed before the end
of this year. The total cost of the Oluvil harbour project, which will
soon become a reality with financial assistance from Denmark, is
expected to be around Rs. 6 billion.
The Colombo South Harbour development project was accelerated and the
proposed harbour will have four terminals, each over 1,200 metres in
length to accommodate three berths with provision to go down to 23
metres to accommodate deeper craft vessels in the future. The
development of phase one of the Colombo South Harbour project will be
implemented in two stages with the first stage estimated to cost around
US$ 300 million which would be found locally.
The Galle Port will be of multipurpose value with room to be
developed as a water sports venue too. This would be the only local port
that could provide facilities for yachts with the International Yacht
Society recognising the Galle Port as one of the world’s best
This prompted the government to convert it into the region’s first
tourist harbour. In the next phase, facilities will be provided to
accommodate passenger cruise ships. The project will be completed in two
stages within three years.
Moreover, the government will also develop the Trincomalee Port while
the Kankesanthurai harbour would be developed to international standards
with Indian assistance. Following its success there would be a
revolution in the shipping sector.
Sri Lanka’s second international airport too will be a reality in a
couple of years. This would ease air traffic at the international
airport at Katunayake. Preliminary construction work on the 3.5
kilometre runway at the Mattala International Airport, close to the
Hambantota Port, is already under way.
On completion of the project in 2012, the new airport project will
create 2,000 direct and 5,000 indirect employment opportunities, opening
a new chapter in Southern development. These gigantic tasks have been
achieved due to the dynamic political leadership of President Rajapaksa.
Opposition politicians and even a few in the Government, apart from
certain moderates, wondered as to how the Government would find the
tremendous finances needed to implement these mega projects.
President Rajapaksa had a far-sighted vision and a sincere desire to
achieve all these economic development goals. The battle against
terrorism and development went on apace and the President proved that
nothing is impossible if there was a genuine willingness and devotion to
achieve these goals.
Opportunistic Opposition politicians, who were critical of the
President and attempted to sling mud at him to gain petty political
mileage, are now dumbfounded as the President is taking the nation
towards economic prosperity.