Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa was on a multi-faceted inspection tour of Hambantota International Port (HIP) to assess ongoing development projects in the port.
Johnson Liu, CEO of Hambantota International Port Group, welcomed the Prime Minister and his delegation, said: “It is a real pleasure for me to have the Honorable Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa at this special event. Today we are witnessing the progress and success of the port, which was developed under your guidance and visionary leadership, and this port now serves as a beacon for the economic development of the southern region of Sri Lanka.
The Prime Minister was accompanied by Qi Zhenhong, Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Ministers GL Pieris, Chamal Rajapaksa, Namal Rajapaksa. The Prime Minister’s visit also coincided with the port reaching the milestone of 500,000 RORO vehicles handled in 2021, for which he participated in an inauguration ceremony.
The visit included the laying of the foundation stone for the port’s first bonded warehouse project, after which the Prime Minister was accompanied by the port team to inspect the construction sites of the factories set up by the Xinji Shenzhen Group and the Ceylon Tire Manufacturing Company. The PM also inspected the slope protection project initiated by the port to stabilize the tire factory area, which represents an investment of $ 300 million. The project, being developed on 55.8 hectares of land which includes an additional 16 acres for its second phase, has committed to exporting 30,000 container units per year and is expected to create more than 3,000 jobs. The plug and play park in a $ 15 million park of Xinji Shenzhen Group, a high-tech facility to provide ‘one-stop’ services to light industries, is being built on 3.07 hectares of land and will create about 500 jobs.
The Prime Minister and his delegation received a brief introduction to the HIP Industrial Park Master Plan by CEO Johnson Liu. Delegates were briefed on the new Hope Village project being implemented by the port for the benefit of surrounding communities, which will help develop livelihoods in livestock and agriculture. HIPG’s vision is to inspire positive change and empower people and communities while protecting the environment and people to create a sustainably fueled future. With this in mind, HIP has carried out 43 CSR projects since 2018, with more than Rs. 80 million donations for the development of local communities.
The visit ended at an event on the 12th floor of the Hambantota Maritime Center, where HIPG COO Tissa Wickramasinghe presented the Prime Minister with a project report on all development activities at the Hambantota International Port.
The logistics warehouse which is built by Hambantota Port and Logistics Services Pvt. Ltd., the warehousing branch of Colombo Logistics group for storing bagged goods, is being developed over an area of approximately 1 hectare. Colombo Logistics Group, the leading local investor in warehousing at HIP, has 14 years of experience in developing large-scale businesses, gaining a reputation for rapid expansion in the country’s logistics sector.
The new storage facility when completed will boost HIP’s plans to expand fertilizer distribution both locally and for transshipment.
The port was able to increase RORO (roll on-roll off) volumes this year by introducing new effective strategies and forming partnerships with new RORO lines to move transshipment cargo via HIP. The innovative approach helped to process 500,000 units of small and large vehicles in 2021, amid the lingering challenges facing the pandemic. Transshipped vehicles are mainly manufactured in India, Thailand, Japan and Korea and destined for Africa, the Middle East, the Far East and South America.
Building on the port’s success model, CEO Johnson Liu added, “The Hambantota International Port, with its mission to become a world-class seaport, now operates in a number of business lines not limited to RORO, bulk and general freight. In accordance with the requirements of the Government of Sri Lanka, SLPA, Sri Lanka Navy, Sri Lanka Police and Sri Lanka Customs operate in the port, overseeing its overall security. At HIPG, we have implemented a master plan called “HIP Speed” which is specifically designed to remove bottlenecks and create processes that do not prevent projects from being implemented on time. Our deadline for completing projects is much shorter for this reason, which has helped us all the more to make appropriate investments at the port. We are now well supported by two government agencies, the Board of Investment and the Industrial Development Board, which have offices at the Hambantota Maritime Center located in the port. This would help us facilitate the initial investment and implementation process and, in turn, build the confidence of those who wish to partner with us in projects. “
On the operational level, the port has accelerated the processes not only for its short-term needs, but also for the future in terms of infrastructure that will be necessary to position the port activity in the different sectors, for a rapid development under HIP Speed. The port masterplan is scrupulously followed and HIP is now in the process of developing upstream and downstream supply chains for the proper functioning of its industrial zone.
So far, 42 companies have signed agreements with HIPG to enter the industrial park, of which 10 projects have already started construction. 8 new projects are due to be signed soon, while 15 other high-potential projects are in preparation. The Port of Hambantota will be a symbol of long-term friendship between Sri Lanka and China, and the CEO of HIPG said that the China Merchants Group will continue to contribute to the economic development of the Hambantota region.