Sri Lanka is located in the centre of the
former Maritime Silk Route which operated
from around 250 BC connecting ancient
Alexandria with China. Its geographic
location is crucial to the building of trade
and cultural ties between East and West. The
importance of Sri Lanka in trade relations
of the ancient world can be found in early
inscriptions and other resources both from
the East and the West.
Even now, Sri Lanka has immense potential
for economic development as this same
maritime route is used even today for trade
connecting the Europe and the Middle East to
China and the rest of Asia. No other country
in the world has the advantage that Sri
Lanka has in being an island of such a
strategic geographic location. Thus, it is
vital that Sri Lanka’s ports meet the
standards needed to provide an efficient
service for ships coming from all corners of
the world. Building and reconstructing ports
in Sri Lanka is an essential development
task with an immense positive impact on the
The government has recognized this
importance of the strategic location of Sri
Lanka and the necessity to develop harbours
around the island to boost the country’s
economy. New projects have commenced to
build new harbours and enhance the
capacities of existing harbours in the
entire island so that all Sri Lankans will
benefit equally from development activities
that have commenced with the victory over
terrorism. Following is an update of the
development of the Colombo and Galle ports.
Port of Colombo
The Port of Colombo being the premier Port
in the country has been the focal point of
important Port development activities in Sri
Lanka since the formation of the Sri Lanka
Ports Authority (SLPA). With the Government
policy to develop the regional areas in the
country, at present there is emphasis on the
development of Ports of Galle, Trincomalee,
Kankasanthurai and Point Pedro as well with
a new Port in Hambantota.
The proposed Colombo South Harbour will be
located west of the present South-WestBreakwater
in an area of approximately 600 hectares. It
will have four container terminals in the
long term with each terminal 1200m long to
accommodate 3 berths.
The development of the phase I of the
Colombo South Harbour has two components.
One is the infrastructure (breakwaters and
dredging) with public sector funds and the
other is the first terminal construction
The construction of the breakwater by
placing of core material and outer
protection layers of first 1000m length of
the Breakwater has been completed.
The rock transportation by sea from Load
Out Point (small harbour) located at Wadduwa,
Kalutara is fully operational. 15 to 20
barges of different types of rock arrive in
Colombo per week.
The dredging of the main channel for the
use of dredged sand in the core of the
Breakwater and in the filling of the
contractor’s working area is in progress.
More than 10 million cubic metres have been
The submarine crude oil pipeline runs
across the port entrance at shallow depth.
The first shipment of steel pipes consisting
90% of the total requirement has been
brought to the site to complete the laying
in December 2009.
SLPA initiated actions for the extension
of JCT IV berth at Jaya Container Terminal
to enhance the capacity of the Port of
Colombo to accommodate the Mega Container
carriers now in operation. With the
implementation of this projects it is
possible to berth two 8000 TEU Container
ships simultaneously at JCT III and JCT IV.
New Terminal Management System (TOS) has
commenced to replace the current JCT
Computer System which is obsolete.
The Galle Port is the only Sri Lankan
port that provides facilities for pleasure
yachts. The International Yacht Society has
recognized the Galle Port as one of the
world's best. The increase in arrival of
these yachts has revived the tourism
industry of the country and Galle in
The proposed Galle Port development in
the first phase is to provide a fully
fledged Yacht Marina for the Galle Port to
attract yachters as the previous facilities
for yachts were damaged during the Tsunami
in 2004. The development of the Port of
Galle as a tourist destination will act as a
catalyst for the economic growth of the
Southern Region of Sri Lanka. In the next
phase, facilities will be extended to
accommodate passenger cruise ships. The
project is to be completed in two phases
within three years.
Galle Port would be developed as a Regional
Port aiming at a cost-effective
transportation mode for the Southern Region.
It is also expected that the Port of Galle
will play a vital role as a driving force
for the Southern area development to narrow
Trincomalee harbour is the fifth largest
natural harbour in the world and the
available water and land area is about ten
times as much as the Port of Colombo.
Trincomalee was tentatively identified to
cater for bulk and break bulk cargo and port
related industrial activities including
heavy industries, tourism and agriculture
At present Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA)
is in the process of developing Trincomalee
as a metropolis growth centre. SLPA has
completed a zoning plan to utilize the huge
amount of existing unutilized land under its
jurisdiction on the outcome of the analysis
with other sectors of development, such as
UDA, BOI, and Tourist Board etc. SLPA has
advertised locally and internationally for
proposals from potential investors for the
Industrial Park and Tourism Zone in the
Trincomalee Ocean City.
Port of Oluvil
Under the “Nagenahira Navodaya” Programme
which was launched to expedite the
development activities in the region, high
priority is given to the development of the
Port of Oluvil which is significant to the
growth of the Eastern Region of Sri Lanka.
This port will form the South Eastern
link in the developing chain of coastal
harbours in the country and will provide
more convenient and cost effective access to
and from the South Eastern region for goods
and cargo originating on the west coast.
The proposed project comprises the
construction of a commercial harbour and a
basin for fishing craft and covers a land
area of 60ha in the first stage and 105 ha
in the second stage. The harbour basin would
cover an area of 16ha of the sea and would
spread 1.2km along the coast line.
The acquisition and purchasing of lands
for the project is completed. Compensation
payments to 806 beneficiaries have already
Permanent Building constructions, such as
administration buildings, Fishery Harbour
activity buildings etc. are in progress
while internal roads and access road
constructions are continuing.
Project construction commended on 01st
July 2008 and is scheduled to be completed
on 30th September 2010.
Meanwhile the constructions of
Kankasanthurai and Point Pedro Ports are
also in progress as part of port development
Hence, Sri Lanka’s economy is expected to
further improve once these ports are in
operation. Such development projects have
created immense employment opportunities and
the entire surrounding areas are expected to
develop in the future. The end to three
decades of terrorism has brought new hope to
Sri Lanka with development activities
Sri Lanka is now on an ambitious path not
thought possible a few years ago when
terrorism was at its heights. Soon all Sri
Lankans will have equal benefit from the
many development activities that the
government has now committed itself to.