Sri Lanka: Southern Asia Ports Logistics 2012 Kicks Off

Southern Asia Ports Logistics 2012 Kicks Off

The Southern Asia Ports, Logistics and Shipping 2012 Exhibition and Conference kicked off with great fanfare at Cinnamon Grand Hotel in Colombo,  the 26th of April.

Being set on this occasion for the first time in Colombo for two days, this event is in its 7th consecutive year to be held in Southern Asia. It is the largest annual Container Ports, Shipping and Transport Logistics Exhibition and Conference event in Southern Asia. The event is co-hosted by Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA).

The 7th Southern Asia Ports, Logistics and Shipping 2012 comprises both a world-class Exhibition and Conference. It will feature on these two days thirty-five (35) world-class speakers in global logistics and transport and it is expected that the event would attract a crowd of more than five hundred (500) senior executives from the world’s leading ports, shipping lines, cargo owners, shippers, freight forwarders, logistics companies, terminal operators, railway operators and port-rail service equipment suppliers from over thirty (30) countries. There will be a two-day Trade Exhibition of nearly sixty (60) international exhibition stands providing a valuable opportunity for companies to market their products and services to participants at this prestigious annual event.

This annual maritime transport Exhibition and Conference event has been designed with a view to promoting maritime transportation in the region and the event organizer had arranged a pre-conference port tour to the Port of Colombo on Wednesday, the 25th for Conference Participants to witness for themselves all of the port’s existing facilities including terminals such as Jaya Container Terminal (JCT), Unity Container terminal (UCT), South Asia Gateway Terminals (SAGT) and the current progress of the Colombo Port Expansion Project.

Logistics in general comprises sea and air transport and is a sizable growth market world wide. Valued at about US$ 320 billion per year, the industry is growing at an annual rate of 3 – 10%. Over the years, the industry has evolved in sophistication with service offerings ranging from individual transport and storage solutions to customized supply chain management services. As the pace of Public Private Partnerships and outsourcing gathers momentum, the industry is likely to enjoy continual growth with new supply chain management features and other value-added services.

The first day of the Conference composed of three (03) sessions covering areas such as the future of Supply Chain and Maritime Logistics of Sri Lanka, Challenges and Opportunities for industry players and total Supply Chain and Logistics Operational Excellence. The Keynote address was delivered by Dr. Priyath B. Wickrama, Chairman, Sri Lanka Ports Authority and among the other distinguished speakers on the first day were Capt. Nihal Keppetipola, Managing Director, Sri Lanka Ports Authority, Dr. Parakrama Dissanayake, Chairman and CEO, Aitken Spence Maritime, Sri Lanka, Mr. Martin Young, Chief Resident Engineer, URS/Scott Wilson, United Kingdom, Dr. Rashid Al Leem, Director General, Hamriyah Free Zone Authority, UAE, Dr. Hu Jianhua, Managing Director, China Merchant Holdinds International China and Dr. Neville Goonewardena, Director General of Customs, Sri Lanka.

In his Keynote address Chairman, SLPA Dr. Wickrama said that Sri Lanka Ports Authority was delighted to co-host this event and was prepared to do its utmost to make the conference as productive, beneficial and significant as possible.

Sri Lanka needs a paradigm shift in its Port Development Strategy. The most modern port development strategy – Transforming port from mere interface between maritime transport and land transport into hub of seamless logistics chain and logistics value-creator or value-adder – has come to stay and this will be the next wave of port development strategy to be followed by Sri Lanka in time to come” he said.

Dr. Wickrama further noted, “Today, major shipping lines call over at the Port of Colombo, primarily to transship the volumes of containers to the Indian Sub Continent (ISC). Almost 60 percent of Sri Lanka’s transshipment is bound for India. Unless, Sri Lanka increases substantially its base cargo in the form of export products to the USA, Europe and Asia, Sri Lanka may not be in an envious position to lure main line vessels. Attracting Foreign Direct Investment for export-oriented industries is one model for generating base cargo and at the same time it also helps economic take-off for developing countries. The volume of base cargo could also be increased by expanding Sri Lanka’s services in the form of value addition through Sri Lanka. It could be offered by way of developing logistics capabilities to provide the most modern warehousing infrastructure facilities for temporary storage and deliver through “Just-in-time” supply chain management systems to large manufacturing companies for example, in the neighbouring Indian Sub Continent countries”.

Capt. Nihal Keppetipola, Managing Director, Sri Lanka Ports Authority, making a presentation on “The Colombo Port Expansion Project (CPEP)” opined that analyzing the distribution and volume movement trends in the regions of Asia/Med and Fareast/North Europe, current global logistics networks, and their alliances such as G6, CKYH, Maersk, MSC/CMA-CGM, we can rest assured that Sri Lanka is definitely ahead of the race in Port Construction.

Capt. Keppetipola went on to say, “There will be more and more consolidation within the industry both in capacity and relationship levels. Ships have got bigger and bigger. Ports of Sri Lanka are equal, in terms of equipment, to the task of handling mega vessels coming out of the order book. Four hundred (400) meters quay length of East Container Terminal (ECT) of CPEP will be ready by the third quarter of 2013 and six hundred (600) meters quay length of Colombo International Container Terminal (CICT) will be ready by the 3rd quarter of 2014. By the time, the West Container Terminal (WCT) becomes up and running in 2017, Port of Colombo will be geared to handle thirteen (13) million TEUs.

In response to a question raised by a member of the audience concerning the plans, the SLPA has contemplated in regard to handling the demand of the ISC Cargo which is forecast at 40 million TEUs by the year 2020, Capt. Keppetipola stated SLPA will open up phase II of the Port of Hambantota for Container Operations by that time.

Responding to another question raised by the audience Capt. Keppetipola said “Although a port possesses latest equipment, sophisticated IT systems or huge rail-road connectivity, it cannot turn a vessel around in quicker time, unless there is a dedicated human resource to man the equipment. In certain ports, plans are afoot to operate them sans human beings by deploying apparatus such as Automated/Automatic Guided Vehicles (AGV). But in this part of the world our operations very much depend on efficient and dedicated labor. In SLPA there are twenty six (26) recognized Trade Unions to be dealt with. Even though the Private Terminal within the Port of Colombo (SAGT) experienced a go-slow last month, the state-run JCT, without any ripple effect, ran smoothly due to the sound administrative procedures adopted by SLPA.

Dredging Today Staff, April 26, 2012; Image: slpa