Sri Lanka Ports have been able to overcome the negative impact exerted on the local port and shipping industry with maximum efforts of the work force, Minister of Ports, Shipping and Aviation Nimal Siripala De Silva disclosed.
He was addressing a special progressive meeting to discuss the current issues in view of the need to expedite ongoing development activities and a program at the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) was held recently at the auditorium of the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Aviation.
SLPA Finance Division revealed that during the first and second quarters of 2021, the revenue generation of SLPA slightly decreased compared to the first and second quarters of this year.
Due to the present economic recession faced by Sri Lanka and trade union actions launched in support of the ‘Galle Face Aragalaya (Youth Struggle),’ about 17 ships to be called at the Port of Colombo (POC) were diverted to other ports in the region.
It was also revealed in these discussions that due to these issues, several shipping lines are still reluctant to avail the services of the port.
The Minister instructed the Marketing and Business Development Division of SLPA to take necessary steps to acknowledge the shipping lines and their local agents through effective discussions that the port operations were restored and back to normal and strengthen efforts towards attracting more ships to Colombo.
The Minister also commended the steps taken to purchase new cranes with a financial utilisation of $ 46 million for the East Container Terminal (ECT) even amidst prevailing difficulties and emphasised that his objective was to offer priority towards the development activities of the terminal.
The Minister directed the officials to facilitate financial allocations for the remaining ECT construction work on a priority basis.
He also instructed SLPA officials to discuss with the relevant contractors and engineers on the progress and future plans of the construction activities of the ECT and report him on their current status.
Further speaking at this meeting, the Minister emphasised that the welfare of the employees who perform dedicatedly towards efficient and productive operations and the development of the port should be strengthened.
The Minister also pointed out the importance of further strengthening the SLPA’s Mahapola Ports and Maritime Academy in order to train seafarers and establish enhanced facilities for the youth of the country willing to take increasing opportunities in the commercial maritime sector. He noted that this sector is a good opportunity to increase foreign exchange revenue in the country and instructed officials of the institution to immediately take steps to utilise buildings already under SLPA to extend training facilities for the purpose.