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Hambantota International Port commences container operations

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COLOMBO : In a landmark move, the Hambantota International Port (HIP) commenced its inaugural container transshipment service operated by the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC).

MV ‘MSC Ingrid’ made her maiden call at HIP on 9th April, discharging a total of 500 plus TEUs of transshipment containers to be connected to a second carrier, ‘MSC Sky 11’ expected to call at the port on 16th April.

The first shipment of containers consigned to the regional multipurpose port on the east west shipping route, originated from the Rotterdam Port and will reach its final destination, Dubai via the second carrier.

Commenting on the port’s historic milestone, Johnson Liu ,Chief Representative of China Merchants Group in Sri Lanka and CEO of Hambantota International Port Group (HIPG) said “We are happy to announce the beginning of Hambantota International Port’s inaugural Container Transshipment service. Launching this new business platform together with MSC is an important breakthrough in the port’s business portfolio, and we are proud to have the world’s largest container carrier as our partner.   We are confident our container transshipment service will enhance Sri Lanka’s position in the marine connectivity index for the South Asian region. With MSC’s collaborative partnership, HIPG will now look at expanding our investment in equipment and other infra-structure facilities, enabling us to service larger vessels on the east west shipping route.  We plan to make optimal use of HIP’s strategic location, capacity and expertise, to deliver the full potential the port is capable of, doing our part to enhance Sri Lanka’s regional hub status.”

The CEO thanked the  Minister of Ports, Shipping and Aviation, Nimal Siripala de Silva for the support and cooperation extended to HIP in granting the required approval and giving necessary direction to his officials to facilitate the shipping connectivity between HIP and the Port of Colombo (POC). Through this approval, local importers and exporters would be able to make direct shipments and/or transshipment of cargo to and from HIP to POC and vice-versa. Given the climate change environmental concerns in the logistics and supply chain industry, the shipping connectivity between the two Ports will make a significant impact in reducing green-house gas emissions as opposed to  road transport.

COO of HIPG Tissa Wickremasinghe says container handling is the last cog in the port ‘machinery’ and it falling into place will complete HIP’s big picture.  “The introduction of Container services through HIP will be a major boost to Investors in the Port Industrial Zone, who will now benefit from directly importing their raw material requirements for production and the export of their finished products directly through HIP – thus making HIP a gateway and transshipment port.”

As the world economy re-adjusts to find more efficient systems to produce and transport goods, the shipping industry is continuously looking for smarter, more cost effective options.  Shamal Perera, Director-Operations and Regional Operations Manager-Colombo representing MSC Geneva, said the shipping company would always look for the best options available for customers amidst current global challenges faced by the shipping lines.  “As a forward thinking Carrier, MSC will always evaluate available options in order to be flexible in providing the best services to our customers. HIP has worked very closely with us to meet our requirements with the facilities currently available at the port. We also believe the approval granted by the Minister of Ports & Shipping to provide connectivity between HIP and the POC is a futuristic move that must be commended.”

The Hambantota International Port has placed itself in an ideal position to provide sought after solutions needed by the industry. The port is currently developing on five silos, to ensure enhanced service value and necessary synergies, while placing emphasis on stringent rules for health and safety.

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