Advanced talks with India and Japan to construct a container terminal at Colombo port

Advanced talks with India and Japan to construct a container terminal at Colombo port

Written by Staff Writer

25 May, 2019 | 8:57 pm

COLOMBO (News 1st):  Reuters reported that Sri Lanka is in advanced talks with India and Japan to construct a container terminal at the port in Colombo, next to a Chinese terminal built as part of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Reuters reported that the involvement of India and Japan is the latest sign that Sri Lanka wants to neutralise the growing influence of China. Quoting a source close to the Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka, Reuters reported that a framework for the terminal project will be “signed soon.”

A diplomat at the Japanese embassy in Colombo also confirmed negotiations on the port terminal were taking place. Another source said the project would cost about $500 million and India and Japan will nominate companies that will handle the containers from their respective countries.

Quoting a source, Reuters reported that Japan will provide a 40-year soft loan with a 0.1% interest rate with a 10-year grace period. The three countries will also set up a company to operate the terminal after the Sri Lankan cabinet approves the deal.

News 1st was able to confirm that the agreement reached with India and Japan is with regard to the Eastern Terminal of the Colombo Port. The previous attempts made by the team including Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to handover the Eastern Terminal to India was rejected by President Maithripala Sirisena.

When News 1st inquired from the Secretary to the Ministry of Ports & Shipping and Southern Development Admiral Sirimevan Ranasinghe, he said an answer can only be given after looking into it. Trade Unions at the Ports Authority charge that the government is considering to award the project to Indian and Japan when the Sri Lanka Ports Authority has the capability to complete the project.

President of the All Ceylon Port Common Workers Union, Chandrasiri Mahagamage claims that the civil engineering activities of the eastern terminal have already been completed. He continued to say that the Sri Lankan Ports Authority has the Rs. 75 million required for the machinery. Mahagamage further said that however if the government conspires to get together with India to put this process into action that it would turn out to be detrimental for the country. He said that now the government is trying to steal from the Ports Authority just like they did before from the CBSL; the act will limit the Ports Authority to just a signboard. The President of the Union added that if this issue continues that all employees will come together to fight against it.

It should be noted that we make these revelations not with the intention of opposing the government, neither will we fall into their agenda, instead we will always stand with the people.

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