By Ravi Ladduwahetty
The success story of the Ruhunu Magampura Port as a port for car carriers following the berthing congestion in the Colombo Port, has seen many multinational car carriers approaching the Sri Lanka Ports Authority for car assembly plants within the Tax Free Zone of the port.
There are a large number of motor vehicle manufacturers who are wanting to translocate their plants at Hambantota following the opening up of the port for car carriers, which was due to the berthing delays in Colombo, Sri Lanka Ports Authority Managing Director Captain Nihal Keppetipola told The Island Financial Review yesterday.
Operations of handling car carriers at the Ruhunu Magampura Port at Hambantota began yesterday, heralding a new era in Sri Lanka’s shipping industry.
A Japanese carrier Sricia arrived at the port with 15 Japanese vehicles and a further 998 cars arrived via the Glovis Asia Sun which also docked at the port yesterday.
The 15 cars were for the local market while the 998 cars- all Hyundai were to be transshipped to Algeria via the on carrier which was scheduled to sail to Hambantota on June 17. The local agents in Sri Lanka for Hyundai is Aitken Spence Shipping Ltd.
He also said that there were attractions of the port for the existing car assemblers and manufacturers not only in terms of the tax concessions but freight advantages due to the geographical proximities as well.
Capt. Keppetipola also said that the importers of vehicles, motor cars and lorries, do not need to panic as there would be a payment gateway established in Colombo and the deliveries of the vehicles could be in either or any other part of the country.
He also advocated the establishment of many other cities for the deployed vehicles to be taken delivery of without merely restricting them to be delivered in Colombo.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Ceylon Association for Ships’ Agents Nimal Ranchigoda told The Island Financial Review that the association was elated at the Hambantota success story as it was CASA which proposed to the Sri Lanka Ports Authority to mull the establishment of that port for car carriers due to the berthing delays in Colombo.
"This is indeed a good start and the prospects could be developed in the future which are limitless. The ideal situation was for Colombo to remain as a container port, while Hambantota could be developed for break bulk cargo," the CASA Chairman said.
Aitken Spence Shipping General Manager (Operations) Hasthika Dela, whose company are the agents for Hyundai Glovis, the Korean company which brought the cargo to Colombo said that they were discharging the cargo last night itself and that by 6 pm, they had discharged around 400 cars.
The vessel which sailed to Hambantota with the 998 cars was the Asian Sun while the vessel which will be sailing to Hambantota to take the cars to Algeria will be the Asian Legend, he said
He also expressed confidence that Hambantota will have lots of scope for car carriers with western destinations in mind such as Europe and the Mediterranean in addition to East and West African ports. "We will be able to actively canvass business for Hambantota which will also have excess space than Colombo," he said.