COLOMBO, Nov. 28 (Xinhua) -- Sri Lanka's new Minister of Roads, Highways, Ports and Shipping Johnston Fernando said that the new government aims to expedite the development of the East Container Terminal (ECT) of the Colombo Port in order to boost container throughput, local media reported here Thursday.
During a meeting held at the Ports Ministry auditorium here, Fernando asked port officials to submit detailed reports on actions that should be taken to develop the ECT. Fernando said that development of the terminal was crucial for increasing container throughput and maintaining the Colombo Port's status as a hub on the Indian Ocean.
Previously, while assuming duties as a cabinet minister on Nov. 25, Fernando said talks have been held with the business community about fast-tracking the construction of the ECT. "A port is similar to the heart of a country. Therefore, as the port sector plays a crucial role in posting positive statistics for a country's economy, our administration is primarily focused on improving efficiency to ensure expansion of the sector," Fernando told local media.
In May 2019, the Sri Lankan government signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) with Japan and India to jointly develop the ECT. According to the agreement, the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) will retain 100 percent ownership of the ECT while the administration will be handled by a jointly owned Terminal Operations Company (TOC) of which the Sri Lanka Ports Authority will hold a 51 percent stake.
The first phase of the ECT was completed with an 80-million-U.S. dollar loan from the Bank of Ceylon (BOC) in 2015. The second phase of development is expected to be financed by a proposed 500-million-dollar loan from Japan.