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Tuesday, August 17, 2010 - 6.13 GMT

Harnessing the blue skies and seas;
Magampura Port development speeds up


"I am determined to make our country the centre of the Asian silk route once again taking advantage of its unique geographical location. I intend to develop it into a navigation, aviation, trading and commercial centre linking the East and West".

This was President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s vision in harnessing the blue skies and seas to ensure the wellbeing of Sri Lanka’s future generations.

The President’s election manifesto, Mahinda Chintana places much importance to the development of Naval and Aviation services. It promises that Hambantota will be developed as an intermediate (stopover) harbour.

The government has, therefore, successfully commenced many projects related to Naval and Aviation services around the country, such as constructions of the Oluvil harbour, Galle harbour and the expansion of the Colombo South harbour, and the construction of Sri Lanka's 2nd International Airport at Mattala, since President Rajapaksa took office.

With the inauguration of the water filling in the Magampura [Hambantota] Harbour basin on 15th August 2010, international ships will soon enter the southern Port making it Sri Lanka’s second international Port.

Addressing the large gathering at the Karadiyawara Mangallaya, President Rajapaksa said, "It is not sea water that will fill this port, but the future prosperity of our nation. From this port will emerge our true economic independence."

The location of the Magampura Port

Hambantota is within 10 nautical miles of the world's busiest shipping lane. It is ideally located at the intersection of major international sea trading routes. Over 100 ships go pass Sri Lanka daily between Europe and the Far East, necessitating the carrying of a large quantity of fuel and supplies for the journey, which could be replaced by cargo if servicing is provided midway at Hambantota.

As a Greenfield site, Hambantota possesses a significant advantage in that it can be planned without any restriction to achieve high port performance and productivity.

The natural depth along the coastline is ideally suited for the development of a deepwater port. The approach to the port does not necessitate a long dredged channel.

As a strategically situated maritime gateway to India (for transshipment container cargo), Hambantota is very well positioned. It is better located than any Indian port to act as transshipment centre, because of equi- distance to, and ability to serve both, the east and west coasts of India as well as Myanmar, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and smaller countries such as the Maldives.

Hambantota enjoys a very good geographic location to serve domestic trade, with direct roadway connection to the southern, central and eastern areas of the island. In this respect, it is better located to serve the southern half of the island than Galle, and it enjoys a unique location in the Southern Region for linking to the Central and Eastern provinces by road, these connections are not currently in good condition and would have to be improved for the port to develop as an important domestic trade centre.

Hambantota is quite distant from Colombo and therefore would function best as an independent rather than overflow port.

Considering weather conditions, Hambantota is not subject to the cyclonic activities that periodically affect the Bay of Bengal and the north-eastern coast of Sri Lanka, and it does not experience the full force of the South-West monsoon.

Hambantota has an extensive land area for expansion and labour- related activities such as port related industries, warehousing and servicing. This is a unique feature that provides a distinct advantage over other ports. Thus, Magampura Port will soon be one of the leading naval hubs in the world.

First phase of the project

During the first phase of the project, construction was carried out in 43 hectares of land. Ships with a capacity of 100,000 DWT will be facilitated under the first phase.

It is significant that all preliminary activities of the project were completed within a very short period with the participation of local and international experts before the initial target date of 15th April 2011.

Preliminary studies, data collection, feasibility studies, environmental impact assessment and detailed engineering designs etc were also completed within a very short time.

The Government of China is funding 85% through the EXIM Bank while the Ports Authority is funding 15% as per the contract. The cost for the Phase 1 of the project is US $ 360 million.

The main construction work of Phase 1 commenced on 15th January 2008 and the project duration was scheduled for 39 months, but it was completed before the initial target date.

The main construction work includes, construction of two breakwaters, excavation of the 17 m depth basin area, dredging of 210m wide entrance channel, construction of a service berth, a general purpose berth, an oil berth, roads and buildings.

New properties and housing for families affected

All 450 families in the Karagan Levaya and surrounding areas affected by the construction of the Magampura Port, have been provided with financial assistance and lands as compensation. The Ports Authority has also provided all necessary infrastructure facilities to those who received lands.

Thus, all obstacles have been removed to construct the new Magampura Port.

Residents of the Hambantota district are made aware of the benefits of the Magampura Port project through Seminars and workshops.

Second phase of the project

Agreements have already been signed for the commencement of the second stage of the Magampura Port, the Ports Authority said.

Under the 2nd Phase of the project, the government is planning to build a 50 acre island in the sea off the port. A bridge with a height of 8 meters, roads and terminals will be constructed to join the island with the mainland.

Once the project is completed the port will provide services such as bunkering facilities, ship repair, ship building and general shipping services while, ‘Raw Raw’ services for importing and re-exporting, as well as food and medical assistance will be provided for the ships' crew arriving at the Magampura Port.

Port authorities are also expected to provide crew members to ships and function as a transit centre.

The aim of Mahinda Chintana to upgrade Naval and Aviation services in Sri Lanka is now becoming a reality. The Port of Magampura, once completed, will provide a gamut of services to function as an international naval centre.

The project will help fulfil the goal of making Sri Lanka a naval hub in the world, to face regional challenges, and attract foreign revenue and investments.





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Last modified: August 17, 2010.

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