The Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) believes the country needs to form a substantial base cargo as exports to the US, Europe and Asia thereby reducing its dependency on transshipment business bound for India.
These observations were brought to the fore at the recently concluded Southern Asia Ports, Logistics and Shipping 2012 Exhibition and Conference in Colombo, a media release issued by the SLPA stated adding this event is in its 7th consecutive year to be held in Southern Asia.
It is the largest annual Container Ports, Shipping and Transport Logistics Exhibition and Conference event in Southern Asia and was co-hosted by SLPA. Delivering the keynote address SLPA Chairman Dr. Priyath Bandu Wickrama said, "Today, major shipping lines call over at the Port of Colombo, primarily to transship the volumes of containers to the Indian Sub Continent (ISC). Almost 60 percent of Sri Lanka's transshipment is bound for India. Unless, Sri Lanka increases substantially its base cargo in the form of export products to the USA, Europe and Asia, Sri Lanka may not be in an envious position to lure main line vessels."
He notes that the "volume of base cargo could also be increased by expanding Sri Lanka's services in the form of value addition through Sri Lanka. It could be offered by way of developing logistics capabilities to provide the most modern warehousing infrastructure facilities for temporary storage and deliver through "Just-in-time" supply chain management systems to large manufacturing companies for example, in the neighbouring Indian Sub Continent countries".
The first day of the Conference composed of three (03) sessions covering areas such as the future of Supply Chain and Maritime Logistics of Sri Lanka, Challenges and Opportunities for industry players and total Supply Chain and Logistics Operational Excellence. The Keynote address was delivered by Dr. Priyath B. Wickrama and among the other speakers on the first day were Capt. Nihal Keppetipola, Managing Director, Sri Lanka Ports Authority, Dr. Parakrama Dissanayake, Chairman and CEO, Aitken Spence Maritime, Sri Lanka, Martin Young, Chief Resident Engineer, URS/Scott Wilson, United Kingdom, Dr. Rashid Al Leem, Director General, Hamriyah Free Zone Authority, UAE, Dr. Hu Jianhua, Managing Director, China Merchant Holdinds International China and Dr. Neville Goonewardena, Director General of Customs, Sri Lanka. Dr. Wickrama called for a paradigm shift in its port development strategy noting that "Transforming port from mere interface between maritime transport and land transport into hub of seamless logistics chain and logistics value-creator or value-adder - has come to stay and this will be the next wave of port development strategy to be followed by Sri Lanka in time to come."
Capt. Nihal Keppetipola, Managing Director, Sri Lanka Ports Authority, making a presentation on "The Colombo Port Expansion Project (CPEP)" believed the country is ahead of the race in port construction in terms of distribution and volume movement trends in the regions of Asia/Med and Fareast/North Europe. The release stated that in response to questions posed by the audience, Capt. Keppetipola commended the local manpower stating that "In SLPA there are 26 recognized trade unions. At no time has any of them brought country's politics into the port and the state run JCT has been running smoothly due to the confidence the employees have on the Management and the sound administrative proceeding adapted by the SLPA."
The 7th Southern Asia Ports, Logistics and Shipping 2012 comprised both a world-class Exhibition and Conference. It featured 35 world-class speakers in global logistics and transport and attracted a crowd of more than 500 senior executives from the world's leading ports, shipping lines, cargo owners, shippers, freight forwarders, logistics companies, terminal operators, railway operators and port-rail service equipment suppliers from over 30 countries. A two-day Trade Exhibition of nearly 60 international exhibition stands provided a valuable opportunity for companies to market their products and services to participants at this prestigious annual event, the release also said.