A Sino-Sri Lankan Joint Venture to run the China-funded US$ 1.4 billion Hambantota port in South Sri Lanka was officially launched here on Saturday (Dec. 9) by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
The Joint Venture is between the public sector Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA)/Government of Sri Lanka and the China Merchant Port Holdings (CMPH) will make Hambantota port part of Chinaâ€™s One Belt One Road (OBOR) Initiative and the 21 St. Century Mariime Silk Route project.
As result of the Concessional Agreement dated July 29, 2017, two companies have been formed to run the Hambantota port â€“ the Hambantota International Port Group (HIPG) and the Hambantota International Port Services Co.Pvt.Ltd.
With US$ 292 million handed in, the CMPH has given, as down payment, 40% of the total of US$ 1.2 billion pledged to the port as per the Concession Agreement.
Thanks to the JV, Hambantota port will be the largest multi-purpose port in Sri Lanka and also the islandâ€™s single largest private investment. The aim is to make the Hambantota port a â€œtotal logistics solution provider,â€ the CMPH said in a statement.
Historic Day Says Lankan Prime Minister
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe described the occasion as â€œhistoricâ€, as it will help make the Hambantota port part of Sri Lankaâ€™s grand scheme to make the island nation the maritime hub of the Indian Ocean.
Sri Lanka will have three ports â€“ one in the West (Colombo), one in the South (Hambantota), and one in the East (Trincomalee)- to make it an ideal maritime hub of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), he said.
Wickremesing hestated that Sri Lanka is now part of Chinaâ€™sÂ One Belt One Road Initiative (OBOR), which,along with its 21st.Century Maritime Silk Route,is an international connectivity project.
Through the OBOR and the 21 st. Century Maritime Silk Route, Sri Lanka will become a maritime hub as indeed it was in pre-colonial times when the Chinese had a maritime silk route girdling the globe, the Lankan Prime Minister said.
Sri Lanka lost its place in the maritime route because of the disruption of the system by the colonial powers, he explained.
Wickreremsinghe said that the Hambantota port will be part of a larger scheme to make the area around it a hub of industrial activity with a cement plant and an oil refinery coming up in the proposed Economic Zone.
Total Logistics Hub
In a document released on the occasion of the inauguration it was stated the aim of the government of Sri Lanka and the China Merchant Port Holdings (CMPH) is to transform Hambantota port from a â€œtransshipment hubâ€ to a â€œtotal logistics hubâ€ of the Indian Ocean region.
For the CMPH, Hambantota is the second investment in Sri Lanka, the first being the Colombo International Container Terminal (CICT). The CICT, which is the first phase of the Colombo South Harbor project, has been in existence for the past five years. The island nationâ€™s only deep water terminal, the CICT has already notched 2 million TEUs. The CMPH completed the CICT 32 months ahead of schedule.
Dr.Â HuÂ Jianhua, Executive Vice Chairman ofÂ CMPH said that the new Joint Venture to run Hambantota port will provide training and employment to Sri Lankans, especially the people of Hambantota district. Already, many local youth have gone for training in other projects run by the CMPH, he said.
Dr. Hu said that the 145 year old CMPH has seven years of experience of working in Sri Lanka and has learnt about the countryâ€™s thinking and demands. The success of the Colombo International Container Terminal has given the CMPH â€œimmense confidenceâ€ in itself and Sri Lanka, he added.