H'tota Port lease will create huge opportunities for locals - Welikala
2017-Aug-18 | By News Admin

The leasing of Hambantota Port to a Chinese company will create huge business opportunities for the local shipping and logistics sector, said Serendib logistics President, Niluka Welikala.

Speaking to ‘Daily News Business’, she said that she is expressing her views and an entrepreneur and not from a political angle. She said if not for the Chinese firm coming in, the Hambantota Port development project would have remained stagnant.

“Building a port in Hambantota was a step taken in the right direction as it was strategically located in the heart of international shipping routes. We saw the potential in the Hambantota Port and opened our warehousing complex in a BOI land site in Mirijawala, Hambantota, on long-term lease basis a few years ago. Since then, we see a steady growth in our operations,” she said.

She said that after opening the Port the much needed infrastructure and logistics were not being installed at a pace that was needed. Due to this, the true potential of the harbour could not be exploited and hence the harbour did not ‘take off’ as planned.

Welikala said that a massive investment was needed to put advanced infrastructure such as gantry cranes and additional cargo unloading facilities. “For this investment running in to several millions of rupees, a Chinese company has come forward to install them, taking away a huge burden from the government.”

"From the point of view of a local entrepreneur, first we will have a lot of opportunities in the infrastructure development sector and second, in the services sector. Chinese investors will obviously need the local player to partner them in logistics and local companies can benefit."

In addition, there would also be several openings for transport and other services such as supply of essential services to cargo ships that will call at Hambantota Port, she said.

"Several international industries too would be set up in the investment zone and here again local companies’ support would be sought by foreign companies, opening up business vistas for Lankans that were never on the horizon. In addition, youth also would get high earning employment opportunities."

She said that there would be several foreign workers and this would also give openings for the locals to look after their logistics.

Welikala, who has a wide experience in the field of logistics, freight forwarding and warehousing for over two decades, she said they offer total solutions in warehousing and hub operations for both international and local clients in Sri Lanka. She said that there would soon be a Personal Cargo segment too introduced at the Hambantota Port allowing people in the South as well as the East to collect their cargo without travelling to Colombo. “We will look at this business.”

“We are also looking at the tourism and cruise shipping sector and will invest in building a three star hotel in Hambantota.”
Sources : dailynews