A key development this week where the Ministry of Ports and Aviation and the Sri Lanka Ports Authority issued a Letter of Intent (LoI) to a consortium comprising the China Merchant Holdings International and Aitken Spence Plc to construct and develop the South Container terminal of the Colombo Port was done sans any media or photographers.
The project is worth $500 million and said to be the single largest direct foreign investment in Sri Lanka todate, according to port sources who added that the event on Thursday was sans the glare of the media due to the sensitivity of the roles of India and China in the local investment circuit. “As everyone knows, India is sensitive and concerned about the role of China in Sri Lanka,” one source said.
The consortium will design, construct, develop, manage, operate and transfer the South Container terminal at the Port of Colombo under the LoI. The consortium has been given six months time and an additional three months, if necessary to fulfil obligations in the LoI like finalising funding and finances and laying other groundwork.
After that the concession agreement will be signed and also civil works would begin leading to the first phase of the terminal being ready for operation by first quarter 2013, a long way after the initial plan to get it started by 2006 which was delayed due to issues in the tender, the port source said.
“The scope of work requires the development and management of all works associated with the Terminal which would include a quay wall length of 1200 Meters with a minimum alongside water depth of minus 18metres. The terminal shall be constructed in two phases,” the consortium said in a statement this week.