Connect with us


Hambantota Port moving at speed despite gloomy market



The Hambantota Port has signed deals with more than 30 countries as it looks to promote its operations globally.

 Hambantota International Port Group (HIPG) said that the promotional activities have garnered commendable results despite the gloomy market situation experienced globally.

 “We are rapidly moving to diversify HIP’s industrial zone portfolio and at the same time we are widely promoting the location internationally. We have signed with more than 30 investors from across the globe i.e. the UK, Singapore, Japan, Sri Lanka, China and now the Maldives,” Johnson Liu, CEO of HIPG said.

 HIPG in a release said: The new operational blueprint of the Hambantota International Port (HIP) is impacting all aspects of the port’s activities. “HIP Speed” is a concept to increase efficiency and momentum across port operations for the benefit of all stakeholders.

“HIP Speed will bring a new dimension to investment in port operations and allied industries. We put this formula in place taking into consideration the opportunities that will emerge in the coming year, when supply and demand structures will change and trade routes will be reinvented. The Hambantota Port is well placed on the global maritime map for growth and investment, and this formula is to strengthen processes and infrastructure to capitalize on future opportunities. As per our overall plans the HIP will be a port that will complement the services of other ports operating in Sri Lanka,” says Johnson Liu, CEO of the Hambantota International Port Group (HIPG).

HIP Speed is modeled on previous hands-on experience of the current CEO in other facilities managed by the CMPort, ensuring efficiency and momentum of projects that would otherwise have dragged their feet in planning and execution. The concept also extends to customers establishing their operations in the port’s industrial zone; so that they receive optimum support in clearing speedily any bottlenecks. HIPG is also working on establishing branch offices of leading investor companies, shipping and logistics agents, and has leased out seven floors of the Maritime Centre to more than 30 interested parties. The One Stop Service (OSS)facility with representative offices from BOI and Customs have made the whole investment process more efficient, the same facility will be available from the Ministry of Industries in the near future. The aim of this effort is to minimise the burden on investors when obtaining required certification and approvals from government institutions.

Tissa Wickramasinghe, Chief Operating Officer of HIPG says, “The first two years of our operations was dedicated to setting up the processes, which included drawing up the master plan and putting in place a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). This was vital as when launching a project such as this we need to get everything right the first time over. While we looked at overseas models for benchmarking and maximising our operational efficiency, we were guided mainly by the global standards and procedures of CMPort, which operates more than 50 ports and terminals all over the world. In the first half of 2021, CMPort achieved double-digit growth on its container throughput and bulk cargo volume at home and abroad. The Group’s ports handled a total container throughput of 66.57 million TEUs, up by 21.3% compared with the corresponding period last year, and bulk cargo volume of 284 million tonnes, up by 42.8% over the same period of the previous year.”

 Their partnership with the Shenzhen Xinji Group to set up a plug and play ‘Park in park’ manufacturing facility within the industrial zone is an example of how HIP Speed operates.  The project went into construction within 20 days of signing the partnership agreement with HIPG.

 Likewise, several projects have reached the construction stage, like the Ceylon Tire Manufacturing facility, which is nearing completion of leveling and clearing work

Another area HIP Speed also has worked well is in fast tracking the promotion of the port internationally.  The promotional activities have garnered commendable results despite the gloomy market situation experienced globally.  “We are rapidly moving to diversify HIP’s industrial zone portfolio and at the same time we are widely promoting the location internationally.” says Johnson Liu, CEO of HIPG.

HIP Speed prioritises operational efficiency, constantly reviewing processes to maximise the throughput and give maximum benefit to customers.

A state-of-the-art yacht building facility is also to be set up at the port by Sea Horse Yachts (Pvt) Ltd. HIPG recently entered into an agreement with the newly incorporated company, a premium luxury yacht builder which is privately owned by boating enthusiasts from Maldives. The initial investment for the facility, which will be located within the Hambantota International Port, is set at approximately USD 58 million (Sri Lankan Rupees 11.5 billion) and production is set to commence by early 2022.

The port’s overall cargo handling volume increased by 186% in the first half of this year in comparison to the corresponding period in 2020. The total throughput increased from 420,421 MT by end June 2020, to a significant 1,206,425 MT.

The vision of HIPG is to develop the Hambantota International Port to become an energy hub for South Asia. In order to build this energy hub, HIPG entered into a strategic partnership with Sinopec Fuel Oil Lanka Limited (SFOL) to provide bunkering services as a wholesale exporter and also service vessels calling HIP as a value added service. Bunkering is an important part of HIP’s energy services portfolio. Sinopec with their vast resources guarantees the supply of VLSFO in Hambantota currently and MGO in the near future, enabling the port to service all vessels plying the principal sea route in the Indian Ocean.

Transshipment of LPG and delivery for local consumption is also a part of the energy hub mix at HIP, which has the two main players operating supply facilities within the port. HIP has also partnered with Intertek Lanka (Pvt) Ltd to establish a state-of-the-art petroleum testing laboratory, within the port to provide services to the energy hub, further strengthening HIP capacity to provide these services.

Not only is HIP investing in the efficiency of port operations, they are also helping the surrounding community deal with the pandemic in a timely manner.  HIPG has provided funding to establish a fully-fledged PCR testing laboratory at the Hambantota District General Hospital. Part of the funding for the PCR testing facility comes from the China Merchants Foundation (CMF), the philanthropic arm of HIPG’s main shareholder, CMPort. Many donations of personal protection equipment have also been made to government institutions in Hambantota.

In addition to bringing in new foreign investment, HIPG is increasing its own investment footprint at Hambantota Port, as well as creating more employment opportunities for locals and promoting the development of local industries. The group will continue to promote the port and the Hambantota district, with a view to turning it into a new Maritime centre, which in turn will have the desired impact on the Sri Lankan economy as a whole.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


US delaying visa for Security Oversight Committee head



suggests someone else be appointed to that post

MP Weerasekera seeks Speaker’s intervention

by Shamindra Ferdinando

Controversy surrounds an alleged suggestion by the US that Parliament name a member from a minority community to represent the Parliamentary Oversight Committee on National Security, as incumbent Chairman of the committee Rear Admiral (retd.) Sarath Weerasekera, MP, cannot be issued a visa in time for him to join a parliamentary delegation visiting Washington later next month.

The National Democratic Institute (NDI) has, with USAID funding, organised a 10-day visit for Chairmen of all Oversight Committees. Nearly 20 Oversight Committees function in the current Parliament.

The Oversight Committees also receive the backing of the UNDP. The UN agency has pledged substantial funds for Parliament.

Responding to The Island queries Colombo District lawmaker Weerasekera said that he would write to Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena in this regard tomorrow (25). “I sincerely hope the Speaker seeks a clarification from US Ambassador in Colombo Julie Chung.”

MP Weerasekera acknowledged that the US must have been irritated by his criticism of the US role in last year’s uprising that ousted democratically elected President whatever his shortcomings and lapses were.

The SLN veteran said that he had been informed of the US suggestion by a senior parliamentary official. “There should be a plausible explanation regarding their failure to issue me a visa,” the former Navy Chief of Staff said, pointing out that the visit was to commence in the third week of October.

Declaring that he had attended several US courses during his over 30-year career and had also visited the US as a parliamentarian, the former Public Security Minister emphasised that he didn’t have a special interest joining the delegation but the sponsor under any circumstances shouldn’t differentiate.

The US indicated its desire to drop the SLN veteran from the parliamentary delegation close on the heels of Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy, Vice Admiral Priyantha Perera concluding an official visit to the US. The Navy Chief attended the 25th International Sea Power Symposium held at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island from 19th to 22nd September 2023.

Having retired in late Oct 2006, Weerasekera successfully contested the Digamadulla electorate on the UPFA ticket. Weerasekera, who now represents the SLPP, was elected to the current Parliament from the Colombo District.

Weerasekera said that he expected Speaker Abeywardena to raise the issue with the US embassy in Colombo.Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) leader and SLPP Colombo District MP Udaya Gammanpila recently told The Island that both the US and Australia denied him visas.

Fresh controversy over the denial of visa has erupted as a group of government parliamentarians accompanied President Ranil Wickremesinghe to attend the 78th UNGA in New York. The group consisted of Mahindananda Aluthgamage, Rohitha Abeygunawardena, Premanath C. Dolawatte (all of the SLPP) and Vadiwel Suresh of the main Opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB).

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa last week raised the MPs’ group visiting the US at taxpayers’ expense. Speaker Abeywardena chided lawmaker Premadasa by asking him to do the same when he became the President.

MP Weerasekera said that he intended to take up discriminatory practices of the US with the Foreign Ministry as well. The former minister said that Sri Lanka should examine the issue as in the absence of a clear response the country was being humiliated repeatedly.

Since Sri Lanka co-sponsored accountability resolution at the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council in Oct. 2015, the US, Australia and Canada announced punitive measures against selected serving and retired officers, including Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who held the rank of Lt. Colonel at the time he retired in early 1990s soon after the eruption of Eelam War ii.

Canada also slapped travel restrictions on President Mahinda Rajapaksa as well as Gotabaya Rajapaksa whereas the US imposed a travel ban on Admiral of the Fleet Wasantha Karannagoda in April this year. Karannagoda is on record as having said that he never applied for a US visa since leaving the Navy years ago.

US imposed travel ban on Chief of Defence Staff Shavendra Silva in Feb 2020, while Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka too was denied a visa during the yahapalana administration. Maj. Gen. Udaya Perera, one-time Sri Lanka’s Deputy High Commissioner in Malaysia was denied visa in early Dec 2021. The wartime Director of Operations, Perera, recipient of a degree from the US Army War College was denied entry to the US recently though he has a five-year multiple entry visa issued in August 2019.

Continue Reading


State Minister’s claim that SIS infiltrated NTJ: Church seeks clarification



asks govt. to implement PCoI recommendations now

by Shamindra Ferdinando

In the wake of State Defence Minister Pramitha Bandara Tennakoon’s declaration in Parliament that the State Intelligence Service (SIS) had successfully infiltrated the extremist group which carried out near simultaneous suicide attacks on 2019 Easter Sunday, the Catholic Church would like to know whether the Yahapalana government had been aware of the threat before receiving the Indian alert, Rev. Father Cyril Gamini Fernando said.

State Minister Tennakoon told the Parliament on Friday (22) that an intelligence officer, code-named ‘Sonic Sonic’, had infiltrated the group at the risk of his life to obtain vital intelligence.

The SIS is the country’s premier intelligence organisation though the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) is much larger. The government blamed the National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) for the attacks which claimed the lives of 269 people, including 45 foreigners.

Rev. Fernando emphasised that the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government owed an explanation as to how the defence establishment had failed to thwart the conspiracy in spite of having penetrated the group.

Pointing out that India thrice alerted Sri Lanka, beginning April 04, 2019, Rev. Fernando said that the lapses on the part of the defence establishment here should be reviewed taking into consideration the State Defence Minister’s claim.

Rev. Fernando said the two-day debate on national security and Easter Sunday attacks had proved how irresponsible and treacherous those who wielded political power could be and how political parties adopted a common strategy to deprive justice to terror victims.

The debate caused more confusion and turmoil than addressing the issues at hand, Rev. Fernando said, urging the government to reveal its stand on the recommendations made by the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) on Easter Sunday attacks. “Actually, we got suspicious of the previous government’s intentions when President Gotabaya Rajapaksa announced a six-member group of MPs to examine the PCoI report,” Rev. Fernando said.

The committee headed by Chamal Rajapaksa included Johnston Fernando, Udaya Gammanpila, Ramesh Pathirana, Prasanna Ranatunga and Rohitha Abeygunawardena was appointed on Feb. 19, 2021

Rev. Fernando asked the government to disclose actions taken in respect of recommendations made by the PCoI. Supreme Court Justice Janak de Silva chaired the PCoI. The other members of the CoI were Court of Appeal Judge Bandula Karunaratne, retired Court of Appeal Judge Sunil Rajapaksa, retired High Court Judge Bandula Atapattu and retired Justice Ministry Secretary W M. M. R. Adikari. Justice de Silva handed over the report to the then President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Feb 01, 2021.

Asked to comment on former President Maithripala Sirisena’s call for UN intervention to initiate a fresh inquiry in the wake of Channel 4 allegations pertaining to Easter Sunday carnage, Rev. Fernando stressed that the urgent need was to implement the PCoI recommendations. The CoI recommendations couldn’t be discarded in the guise of fresh investigations, Rev. Fernando said, adding that the PCoI established by President Sirisena was endorsed by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

The National Catholic Committee for Justice to Easter Sunday Attack Victims, in a letter dated July 12, 2021, sought an explanation from President Gotabaya Rajapaksa why his government had delayed implementation of PCoI recommendations having spent a huge amount of taxpayers’ money on the critically important initiative.

Referring to their appeal on July 12, 2021, Rev. Fernando said that the PCoI recommended that the Attorney General consider initiating criminal proceedings against MP Sirisena under any suitable provision in the Penal Code. “We would like to know the status of the AG’s response,” the Church spokesperson said, pointing out that the PCoI asserted how the then Premier and incumbent President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s lax approach towards Islamic extremism facilitated the terror project.

Rev. Fernando said that the government couldn’t wish the CoI report to disappear as the public and the international community were aware of its contents though certain sections were still hidden in the guise of national security.

Rev. Fernando said that the PCoI had recommended criminal proceedings against retired DIG Sisira Mendis (Chief of National Intelligence) and Senior DIG Nilantha Jayawardena (Director, SIS) under any suitable provision in the Penal Code. Pointing out that Jayawardena over the years had reached the topmost position a senior DIG could achieve and was one of the contenders for the IGP post, Rev. Fernando said that the Parliament owed an explanation why an unsuccessful attempt was made to invite him to brief the MPs last week.

Rev. Fernando said that the PCoI made recommendations in respect of Senior DIG Nandana Munasinghe (now retired), DIG Deshabandu Tennakoon, SP Sanjeewa Bandara, SSP Chandana Atukorale, B.E.I. Prasanna, ASP Sisila Kumara, CI Sarath Kumarasinghe, CI Sagara Wilegoda et al.

The Church spokesperson noted that ex-Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando and ex-IGP Pujith Jayasundara had been acquitted on Feb 18, 2022.

Rev. Fernando said that the people had a right to know the status of PCoI recommendation to the Public Service Commission (PSC) that it consider taking disciplinary action against State Counsel Malik Azeez and Deputy Solicitor General Azad Navavi for their lapses which facilitated the Easter Sunday carnage.

Continue Reading


X-Press Pearl insurers make interim payment – Justice Minister



The insurers of the ‘X-Press Pearl’ ship, which sank off the western coast of Sri Lanka two years ago, had made an interim payment to the Sri Lankan government, Minister of Justice Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe told journalists on Sunday (24).

The payment would cover the cost incurred by the Maritime Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) for the beach clean-up operations and compensation for the fishermen affected by the maritime disaster, the Minister said.

Sri Lanka’s Treasury had received 890,000 US dollars and 16 million rupees (around 49,400 dollars) as the interim payment, the Minister said, adding that the second interim environmental assessment report compiled by the MEPA-convened expert committee had placed the environmental damage from the X-Press Pearl disaster at 6.4 billion dollars.

Continue Reading