Colombo port volumes hit a new record of four million containers Tuesday supported by strong growth in both transshipment and import-export cargo, the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) said in a statement.
The number of twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of containers handled by the port is up 20 percent so far this year from a year ago.
It is also up 11 percent compared with the total of 3.68 million TEUs done in 2008, the highest-ever performance by the port before recession hit global trade.
SLPA managing director Nihal Keppetipola said efficiency improvements and removal of security restrictions with the end of a war had helped increase cargo volumes and reinforce Colombo’s status as south Asia’s hub port.
The number of import-export containers handed by Colombo is up 25 percent this year compared with last year while transshipment cargo has increased by 18 percent, the SLPA said.
The state-run Jaya Container Terminal (JCT) handling its highest-ever monthly volume of 201,217 TEUs in August this year.
Keppetipola said a new computerised terminal operating system at the JCT costing 800 million rupees helped integrate all terminal operation and plan and optimize rapid movement of containers between the gate and the quay.
This reduced dwell times for containers and turnaround times for vessels, Keppetipola said.
A satellite-based communication system was also added to monitor container stacking
“Last year we reopened the northern entrance, which had been closed for ten years due to security reasons, to facilitate smoother maritime transportation and to increase productivity in the port,: he said.
“This move put an end to the navigation restrictions that have caused congestion at the port causing delays in cargo handling and turn-around times of vessels.”
Sri Lanka’s 30-year ethnic war ended in May 2009, resulting in the withdrawal of war risk insurance surcharges and accelerating economic growth.
The JCT has handled 2.1 million TEUs this year with the remaining 1.9 million TEUs handled by the privately-owned South Asia Gateway Terminals in which Sri Lankan conglomerate John Keells Holdings has a 42 percent stake.