The sunny days are back in Sri Lanka as business in 2021 was good with the Port of Colombo (PoC) handling its all-time highest volume of 7.25 million TEUs in the calendar year, a YOY growth of almost 6% over 2020. This increase was mainly on the back of a 5 per cent growth in transshipment volumes, which represent 84 per cent of total throughput, primarily to and from South India and Bangladesh and a 10 per cent growth in domestic cargo, driven by a surge in imports. 59 per cent of transshipment is coming from South Indian market, lower than previous year share of 70 per cent due to increased direct callings at east coast ports of India. The year 2022 has yielded a mixed bag, with volumes growing steadily until April 2022 and thereafter beginning to taper slightly on the back of an easing in global demand, according to Sri Lankan Media reports.
Disruption at the Colombo Port due to the pandemic and economic crisis saw certain maritime traffic diverting to Indian ports temporarily.
The International Container Transhipment Terminal (ICTT) in Kochi, Kamarajar Port Limited and VOC Port had all reported increase in container traffic in the past few months.
However, the Sri Lanka Ports Authority was quick to bring the port operations back into sync. Ted Muttiah, Chief Commercial Officer, Colombo Port said, “The Port of Colombo consists of 3 terminals... All the 3 terminals, like many in the region and globally did, at the outset of the pandemic, had some disruptions, but the 3 terminals currently are working in close operational collaboration and have now normalized the port operations in Colombo. ..
With a stable government in place the island nation is busy flexing its maritime infrastructure to get ready for the future cargo growth. “The government wants more public-private partnerships (PPP) to take place enabling the private sector to invest in state sector and earn benefits,” said Minister of Aviation and Shipping, Nimal Siripala de Silva.
We have to invest 75 million US dollars towards Eastern Terminal (ECT) development. We have a road map on how to find Dollars and ensure that the ECT becomes a reality. For the JCT, we are investing another $400 million to expand the capacity and bring in automation.”
Sri Lanka’s container transshipment volumes fell 4.5 per cent from a year ago to 4,83,070 TEUs in June 2022 (Total containers handled in June fell 9.3% to 577,082 TEUs) as domestic imports also fell, as the economy was contracted to stabilize a soft-peg which collapsed due to earlier money printing. The Colombo Port saw volume increases of about 6% in 2021, while transshipment volumes grew by 4.2 per cent to 5.85 Million TEUs. In early 2022, Colombo Port began phase two of its Eastern Terminal extension which will allow it to handle the largest container vessels.