Monday, March 2, 2009

Hambantota Harbour Ahead of schedule

The will to succeed and confidence in one’s self has already helped President Mahinda Rajapaksa, unlike his dithering predecessor governments, to successfully go ahead with the urgently needed Coal Power Plant at Norochcholai and take the war to the LTTE, against the advice of local and foreign experts, who were only pushing their own agendas. Unknown to most people in the country, the Government is now quietly pulling off yet another success. The building of a purpose built deep water harbour at Hambantota. Ahead of schedule and supplementing this massive development is an equally ambitious new town, with all modern facilities, now taking shape, almost adjacent to the Port

According to Chinese engineers involved in the Port project, the first phase of the Hambantota Harbour will be completed at a cost of US$ 361 million by January 15, 2011, four months ahead of the scheduled completion date.

Sour grapes
Even here, some are still trying to make out that the new harbour would be part of a “string of pearls” (ports) that China is strategically building across vital shipping lanes of Asia, for use in the event of a future global conflict. Sri Lanka Ports Authority’s (SLPA) Chief Engineer Janaka Kurukulasuriya, who is overseeing this vital project, simply dismisses such criticisms. “It is a total myth to say this is going to be a Chinese port, for the simple reason the Chinese firms, China Harbour Engineering Co. Ltd. and Sino Hydro Corporation, have only been contracted to build it on a US$ 307 million loan provided by the China ExIm Bank. Beyond that, everything is in our hands, including much of the planning and supervision of the project. Once the project is completed, it will be entirely under the SLPA”, he said adding “There will be no Chinese say in the harbour, once it is completed.”
The SLPA too, has already spent more than Rs 2,000 million, to facilitate the project, having paid US$ 49 million for startup costs of the contractors, Rs 600 million in compensation, paid to private lands and houses acquired for the purpose, and meeting costs of new roads, relocation of utilities such as electricity and telephone lines etc. that were moved to the new Galle Road, from the stretch of Galle Road from Mirijjawela to the other side of Karagam Saltern, which has become part of the new Port.
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