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Bunkering facilities, oil tanks to be completed in May :

Ruhunu Magampura Port development on track



Construction work at the oil farm

Chinese workers at the site
 
 



Deputy Minister Rohitha Abeygunawardena

The bunkering facility and tank farm project of the Ruhunu Magampura Mahinda Rajapaksa International Port would be opened in May, adding one more important landmark to the harbour.

The administration complex of the harbour which would be the tallest building in the Southern province, too would be completed by May. This is a 14-storeyed building and the super-structure in 12 floors has already been completed.

This engineering marvel designed by Tanya and Suren Wickremasinghe Architects would have a floor area of 75,000sq ft and a height of 200ft.

Deputy Minister of Ports and Highways, Rohitha Abeygunawardena, who visited the site, said that the opening of the oil tank farm would bring in additional revenue to the port.

Initially eight tanks offering a total capacity of 80,000mt each would be completed. This would be to supply maritime fuel for ships and for bunkering. Currently, the Port of Colombo operates 12 tanks that can hold a combined 33,000 mt of bunker fuel.

In addition, three more tanks would be completed for use as LPG tanks. These tanks would store 7,000 mt of LPG.

The project would cost US$ 76 million and would be funded by Exim Bank of China. The Sri Lanka Ports Authority too would contribute 15 percent of the cost.

China Huanqiu Contracting and Engineering Corporation Works is the contractor for the project.

The construction of a separate jetty for the tank farm adjoining the main harbour too is now nearing completion and would be ready by May.


Construction work at the oil farm

This would have a separate loading arms and pipeline system which connects the oil and gas jetty. The jetty would be able to dock two ships at a time.

The Hambantota Port would then be ready to provide refuelling and bunkering services for the ships crossing the busy sea route just a few nautical miles off Hambantota.

There would be many opportunities to develop various port-centred businesses including shipbuilding, ship repairing and bunkering.

Employment opportunities

The Deputy Minister said that in addition to the benefits of employment that the port would usher to the Southern Province, for the first time people in Uva, Southern, Sabaragamuwa and other neighbouring areas would be able to buy many commodities including gas at the same prices offered in Colombo. "This is because the transport cost and other overheads are lower when cargo is unloaded at Hambantota. We will give this benefit to the consumer," he said.

The port is expected to provide direct and indirect employment opportunities to over 100,000 people. The idea of building a modern port in Hambantota was first mooted by late Parliamentarian D.A. Rajapaksa, the father of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Deputy Minister Abeygunawardena said that from the inception of the idea to build this Port by President Rajapaksa, negative publicity had been created. "This is because people did not want Hambantota to prosper or the President to be popular," he said.

He said that building a port is not the same as building a bus stand. "One cannot expect ships to be in on cue to dock. "This would happen soon. We know that Magampura is not a white elephant," he said.

He disclosed that three foreign shipping lines have already inquired from him about the use of the Hambantota Port and this is now being perused.

He said President Rajapaksa always thought about the people and the benefits each project would bring to the larger community. "Former political leaders were only keen to carry out popular projects and save their skin. This is why projects like Norochcholai and Upper Kotmale were stalled," he said.


The project at a glance

As the Port of Colombo was reaching its maximum capacity for all types of cargo including bulk, oil and gas and containers, a second port was needed to cater to the increasing demand for maritime transportation and customer services. "This was one prime reason to create the Ruhunu Magampura Port," he said.

Other ports

The Port of Hambantota is planned to be developed as a services and industrial port. Hambantota has one of the lowest per capita incomes Sri Lanka.

In view of deeper berths and the location advantages of Hambantota, it may be capable of attracting most port-related industries. Since the maximum draft at Colombo is about 10m for general cargo vessels, manufactures may invest in Hambantota to get the advantage of 'economies of scale.'

The Deputy Minister also disclosed plans to export LPG gas to other countries for their domestic use. " We would be in a position to unload LPG refill to canisters and re-export them to countries such as the Maldives," he said.

Engineer, Tank farm of the SLPA, M.K.C.P. Priyantha said that the second international airport is being built in Mattala and the Magampura Port would be ready to supply aviation fuel for the air port when it is completed.

For the first time in Sri Lanka's history, five ports - Colombo, Hambantota, Oluvil, Galle and Trincomalee - are to be developed to international standards.

The proposed Colombo South Harbour project would add around 600 hectares. The proposed harbour would have four terminals of over 1,200m each in length each to accommodate three berths alongside depths of 18m and provision to be deepened to 23m to accommodate deeper draft vessels in future.

The Galle Port would be developed as a tourist harbour and would be the only Sri Lankan port that provides facilities for pleasure yacht. Oluvil would be a dual purpose harbour for cargo and fisheries. Trincomalee harbour, the second best natural harbour in the world, too is being developed.

Indian assistance

Another urgent rehabilitation and improvement project was planned for Kankesanthurai (KKS) Harbour, to include the repair of the breakwaters, piers and roads, including dredging and wreck removal and the harbour basin.

To ensure that cargo handling work continues without interruption, the SLPA has committed its own funding to carry out emergency repairs to the Breakwater and dredging of the basin. Of the four barges damaged by the tsunami in December 2004, three are beyond use.

Two new barges were fabricated with funding from the National Budget and the SLPA Budget.

The government of India has indicated that it would grant US$. 23 million for the removal of wrecks and construction of a new pier.

The building of the harbours and developments in the maritime sector would also play a major role to take Sri Lanka towards becoming the Wonder of Asia as the revenue that would flow in to the country via the maritime industry is poised to be very high.

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