The Port of Colombo has earned recognition as the foremost exemplar of efficiency within South Asia and the Indian Sub-Continent. It has further secured the third position among Indian Ocean rim ports. This commendable standing propels it to the 22nd spot on the global stage among a total of 370 ports. This acknowledgment derives from the esteemed Global Container Port Performance Index (CPPI) 2021, meticulously compiled by the World Bank in collaboration with S&P Global Market Intelligence and Financial Services.
The essential role of maritime ports in shaping the cost dynamics of international trade within a nation is emphasized by the authors of this report. They elaborate on how ports and terminals, particularly those serving containers, can sometimes act as bottlenecks, leading to shipment delays, disruptions in supply chains, unwarranted cost escalations, and erosion of competitive advantage.
Addressing this concern, the report illuminates that a prevailing challenge in fostering port enhancement lies in the absence of a reliable, uniform, and comparable framework for evaluating operational performance across diverse ports. This deficiency prompted the creation of the Container Port Performance Index (CPPI) as a technical initiative by the World Bank’s Transport Global Practice, in partnership with the Maritime, Trade, and Supply Chain division of S&P Global Market Intelligence.
Reflecting on the Port of Colombo’s commendable placement in the CPPI rankings, Dr. Prasantha Jayamanna, Chairman of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA), which operates the Jaya Container Terminal (JCT) and the East Container Terminal (ECT) – two pivotal components of the Port of Colombo – affirms that this World Bank and S&P Global recognition, signifying the port’s ranking within the top 7% globally and as the paramount transshipment nexus in South Asia, underscores its eminence.
Dr. Jayamanna further emphasizes that the collaborative efforts of partner terminals, namely the Colombo International Container Terminal (CICT) and South Asia Gateway Terminals (SAGT), have been instrumental in shaping the Port’s success story.
The SLPA’s proactive role as both Regulator and Facilitator in the realm of Sri Lanka’s port development is accentuated. The Port of Colombo, aligned with projected demand, is primed for expansion. Notably, construction has commenced on two new deep-water terminals – the East Container Terminal (ECT) by SLPA and the West Container Terminal (WCT) by a consortium led by Adani Ports, inclusive of John Keells Holdings. This transformative endeavor is set to enhance throughput capacity by over 7 million TEUs within the coming 2-5 years.
Adding to this discourse, Jack Huang, CEO of CICT – a member of the China Merchant Port Holdings Group – highlights their pioneering role as the sole deep-water terminal in South Asia capable of accommodating the largest contemporary container vessels. This distinction, coupled with their steadfast commitment to superior transshipment and gateway services, plays a pivotal role in contributing to the Port’s CPPI achievement.
Romesh David, CEO of SAGT – a consortium led by John Keells Holdings and the AP Moller Maersk Group – echoes a sentiment of unwavering faith in the Port’s potential. SAGT’s consistent investment in enhancing operational capabilities has played a transformative role in upholding Colombo’s global eminence as a transshipment nucleus.
The Port of Colombo, with its record-breaking throughput of 7.25 million TEUs in 2021, continues to demonstrate robust growth. A 2% year-on-year expansion during the initial five months of 2022 attests to its resilience and trajectory of progress.
Significant in the current context is the Port’s extensive infrastructure, boasting nearly 4,500 meters of quay, featuring water depths ranging from 12 to 18 meters, complemented by an array of 47 Ship-To-Shore Cranes and an expansive 130 hectares of yard space. The SLPA, acting as both Regulator and Landlord, also holds a 15% equity stake in the private terminals – CICT and SAGT – augmenting the Port’s comprehensive operational framework.