Govt. plans to make Western Container Terminal operational by year end - Minister

The Government is planning to bring the Western Container Terminal of the Colombo Port to operational level by the end of this year, Minister of Ports and Shipping Rohitha Abeygunawardena yesterday (06) revealed in Parliament.

Minister Abeygunawardena said, within the government’s ruling period, its objective is to bring six terminals of the Colombo Ports to operational level. This shall be the legacy of the government formed by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, Minister Abeygunawardena observed.

Minister Abeygunawardena made these observations in reply to National People’s Power leader MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake questioned government’s plan for developing the Eastern terminal of the Colombo Port. MP Dissanayake was of the view that, as per a report submitted by the engineers association of the Ports authority, the rest of the Eastern terminal can be further developed by the government without any outside investors. “As per this report, these engineers have developed 440 m of the eastern terminal. The terminal should be developed until 1320 m in length. If we can add more 200 m to what is available now, we shall be able to give service to two ships each with a 300 m length. With this, the port will be able to get more revenue, with which the rest of the terminal can be developed.” MP Dissanayake pointed out.

In reply Minister Abeygunawardena pointed out, “When the Yahapalana government came, the three cranes that we had ordered were not purchased. Yahapalana government canceled the purchase. There was a loss of revenue amounting to USD 360 Million due to this decision. The then President Mahinda Rajapaksa, prior to 2015, was planning to develop the eastern terminal on our own without obtaining any foreign loans. But the Yahapalana government ruined it. The Hambantota port was sold for 973 USD MN. Not a single person who supported the then government rose against this decision, and now you all are talking? You could have asked to use that USD MN 973 to develop the eastern terminal, but nobody dared to speak up. Now the annual profit made by the Hambantota port is USD MN 100,000.”

Minister Abeygunawardena also pointed out, “Even Sri Lanka Navy was allowed in Hambantota Port only after the election of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The military presence is vital at a central economic location. However, SL Navy could only make it inside the Hambantota Ports only after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa came into power. If we are to use our own profits from the eastern terminal to develop it, we shall have to wait until year 2035. By then all the shipping companies will have left us. We could only use the terminals for fishing, if that is how we are going to work on it. Contrary, we must finish the development of the eastern terminal by the end of 2022. The government will commence the operations of the WCT terminal this year. Within our rule, we shall establish six terminals all together and bring them into operational level. This shall be a legacy left behind by the President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and our government. This is a challenge we shall happily take upon, without jeopardizing the future generations.”

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