Wednesday, 4 December 2002  
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Two feasibility reports to expedite Hambantota Port project

By Channa Kasturisinghe

The Port Development and Shipping Ministry will obtain two feasibility reports on the development of the seaport at Hambantota in order to expedite the project.

A consultancy service for a feasibility study on the project was assigned to M/s SNC Lavalin International Inc. of Canada last June by the Ministry with a 12-month deadline for completion.

However, at the recent Steering Committee meeting on the proposed Hambantota Port headed by the Acting Secretary of the Ministry M.N. Junaid, it was decided to invite M/s Port Autonome de Marseille of France to do another feasibility study on the project.

Earlier a delegation of the French Company which visited the Hambantota Port expressed its interest in carrying out the feasibility study free.

The leading port in France had identified Hambantota as the ideal location for a hub port of the south Asian region.

According to a senior Ministry official the Acting Ministry Secretary M.N. Junaid had pointed out at the meeting that allowing the French company to carry out anther feasibility study would enable Sri Lanka to expedite the project.

The Steering Committee has also decided to invite the Port Autonome de Marseille to make a presentation of its scope of work with regard to port development and has instructed the Technical Evaluation Committee of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority(SLPA) to study the proposal made by the French Company.

The delegation of the French Company visited the port two years ago and was highly impressed with the location of the port, which has a natural depth of 25 metres, suitable for larger vessels bypassing the Colombo Port. Hambantota is in the East-West traffic between Europe and Asia and about 36,000 vessels pass through this route annually.

The undertakings of the French company include feasibility studies, construction and development of ports (maritime and land), harbour economy, harbour town planning, organisation and management, new information and communication technology for port management, safety at sea, environmental protection and training and management.

According to a spokesman of the Port Autonome de Marseilles any study undertaken by the company will have the full backing of the French Government and the European Union.

"It will make funding a lot easier through international funding agencies. With a strong presence in the world and considerable experience in the fields of co-operation with many ports of the countries with which they have `sister-ship agreements' the French Company's involvement would largely benefit Sri Lanka," the spokesman said.

Meanwhile, representatives of the Canadian Company had told the meeting that they were satisfied with the information provided by the Sri Lankan Government, private and non-governmental organisations with regard to the Hambantota port development.

The Secretary of the Southern Development Ministry C. Maliyedda, SLPA Chairman Parakrama Dissanayake, State Engineering Corporation Chairman A. Wickremanayake, Prof. S. Hettiarachchi of the University of Moratuwa and Director (National Planning) Upali Dahanayaka are among the other members of the Steering Committee.


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