A robust performance by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) managed Jaya Container Terminal (JCT) has helped Colombo port to clock a healthy 10.6% growth in containers handled in 2005 to 2.45 million TEUs over the previous year.
In a year which showed a great comeback on the part of SLPA, its volumes crossed the milestone of 1.5 million TEUs handled, up by a higher 15.4% growth over 2004. The private sector managed South Asia Gateway Terminals (SAGT) managed only a 3.5% growth when it handled 0.93 million TEUs as opposed to 0.89 million TEUs in 2004.
SLPA also had the unique achievement of posting growth in every single month over the corresponding period of last year and this impressive performance helped Colombo port to retain its hub status and finish the year on a very healthy note. In April 2005 it clocked the highest growth of 31.9% while the lowest growth was 7.8% in August. The highest monthly volume handled by SLPA was 138,385 TEUs in October. It has been averaging over 130,000 TEUs per month since July. Colombo port’s overall highest monthly volume of 220,732 TEUs was recorded in August.
In 2004 the Colombo port handled 2.2 million TEUs up by 13% while in 2003 the growth over 2002 was 11%. In that context the overall growth of container handling at Colombo port as percentage was slightly down 10.6% as opposed to 13% in 2004 over 2003. However it has managed to marginally better the performance in terms of transshipment boxes handled with a 12.7% growth to 1.64 million TEUs as against 12% increase to 1.46 million TEUs in 2004. Domestic boxes handled improved by 7.2% to 0.74 million TEUs.
Analysts noted that had SAGT, which had reached saturation point, improved its performance consistently, the Colombo port would have surpassed the original target of 2.5 million TEUs for 2005.
SLPA Chairman Dileepa Wijesundera singled out the achievement of positive growth on a monthly basis over 2004 as a key highlight. He said that robust performance by SLPA has enabled Colombo port to end each month of 2005 on a positive note irrespective of a downturn in SAGT volumes. He stressed on the fact that shipping lines look at the overall performance of Colombo port and not separately by terminals and rated the 10% plus growth as very satisfactory.
Unlike when the previous administration was in office, SLPA management has ensured that volume growth was achieved without compromising an increase in revenue. As per provisional data as of early November SLPA revenue had increased by over Rs. 2 billion compared with the corresponding period of 2004.
Mr. Wijesundera attributed the resilience of and growth on the part of SLPA managed terminals to “greater customer orientation” and quick satisfaction of customer needs and redressing of problems if any. “Since the new management took office the SLPA had signed 9 Terminal Services Agreements (TSAs) which are linked to higher productivity. Aggressive and focused marketing of going to customers rather than they coming to us helped improve Colombo port’s positioning and performance,” Mr. Wijesundera emphasized.
The signing of TSAs along with commencement of new services has given global shipping lines lot of confidence on Colombo and this in turn has encouraged SLPA team to enhance productivity and overall efficiency. “We have offered a better product to shipping lines thereby ensuring consistency in our growth,” the SLPA chief added.