study in stormy seas
study on the proposed international seaport at Hambantota has been
deemed by a steering committee of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority to be
task force appointed by the steering committee at the Port Development
and Shipping Ministry having reviewed the final report of the
feasibility study for the development of the seaport in Hambantota has
noted that the study is not comprehensive. As a result, it is not
bankable. The task force has noted that the feasibility study
conducted by a Canadian organisation is in fact in violation of the
Memorandum of Understanding signed with the Ministry as it was
commissioned to submit a bankable feasibility study.
steering committee is chaired by Secretary, Port Development and
Shipping Ministry, Ranjith Maligaspe. The task force was chaired
by Technical Advisor to Chairman, SLPA, G. P. Weerasinghe and included
Moratuwa University Professor Samantha Hettiarachchi, Project Engineer, SLPA, Susantha Abeysiriwardena, Deputy Chief Engineer, SLPA,
Janaka Kulakulasuriya and Ajit Abeysekera from the Treasury.
Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA), Parakrama Dissanayake voiced his deep
disappointment with the lack of professionalism displayed by the
Canadian based organisation commissioned by the Port Development and
Shipping Ministry to conduct this study.
Lavalin International based in Canada signed an agreement with the SLPA
on June 7 last year, to conduct a feasibility study on developing a
seaport at Hambantota.
Chairman, Sri Lanka Ports Authority, Parakrama
on the study, Parakrama Dissanayake said, “what we see is that the
conclusions formulated in the report submitted by SNC Lavalin is based
on already available information and not on primary research conducted
independently by the Canadian group.”
SLPA Chief noted that what was required was an independent feasibility
study that would provide the government with sufficient information to
make an informed decision on the viability of developing a major seaport
at Hambantota. This underlying and vital requirement the
feasibility study has failed to provide, he said.
are being levelled that political machinations prevented the French
based Port of Marseille Authority which had also expressed interest in
conducting a feasibility study at Hambantota from doing so. Thus, having
put all its eggs into one basket the government is now back to square
one, with an un-bankable feasibility study following the partial report
submitted by SNC-Lavalin.
local agent for SNC-Lavalin is Chairman,
Erisha International (Pvt) Ltd. Cecil Ekanayake. Ekanayake when
quizzed defended the report submitted by SNC-Lavalin saying, “one
thing I can tell you is that we have done an excellent job.” Pressed
to elaborate on the fact that the study is not bankable, Ekanayake
requested for time saying he could meet next week and answer any further
task force appointed by the Ministry to evaluate the feasibility study
has pointed out that SNC-Lavalin has not studied the physical data of
the entire terrain that envelops Hambantota but, has forwarded a
proposal for an area where data to some extent was already obtainable.
committee has further pointed out that the Canadian group has identified
container operations as a necessity for the first stage of development
of the port in Hambantota, not taking into consideration what impact
such a decision would have on the current facilities for container
handling at the Colombo Port.
a haphazard recommendation is cause for serious concern as transshipment
container traffic is volatile and could even bypass Sri Lanka if the
right forward plans to meet their increasing demands are not in place in
time. The task force has noted that SNC - Lavalin having failed to, in
this context, to analyse the characteristics associated with the
movement of container traffic internationally is another cause for
committee adds that there also seems to be an error when the report
states that the 20 meter contour is less than 0.5 km from the coast line
as the 20 meter contour lies around 1.6 km from the coast line.
According to the task force, the volume of rock excavation identified as
16.5 million cubic meters in the report is another major flaw in the
report as the rock removal of the Galle outer harbour development
project is only 13,725 cubic meters.
government in this instance seems to have placed all its eggs in one
basket by allowing only SNC Lavalin to conduct the feasibility study
when the French company Port of Marseille Authority had also expressed
interest but were sidelined.
cabinet paper tabled by the Ports and Shipping Ministry sought approval
to engage SNC-Lavalin International to conduct a bankable feasibility
study of the seaport, subject to conditions laid down by the technical
evaluation committee (TEC) and at no cost to the government of Sri
same cabinet paper further stated that it was necessary to direct TEC to
study the proposals of the French company as an alternative option.
some reason this was not done - and only SNC - Lavalin comm- issioned.
The Memorandum of Understanding between SNC-Lavalin and the SLPA
specifically indicated that the Canadian consultancy group was being
commissioned to carry out a ‘Bankable Feasibility Study’ for the
proposed major international seaport at Hambantota.
government has at all times maintained that the construction of a
seaport at Hambantota is a project of ‘high priority’ aimed to
strengthen Sri Lanka’s maritime industry and help Sri Lanka regain its
historical position as a maritime hub in South Asia. It was
further envisaged that a seaport at Hambantota would improve the
economic situation of the southern region, viewed as Sri Lanka’s
poorest region and stimulate the industrial development of the region.
The proposed port is viewed as a hub on the Europe-Middle East and Far
East shipping corridor and a gateway to the India-Pakistan-Bangladesh
estimated capital investment has been placed at approximately US $ 650
million for stage one of the development and a total of US $ 1.48
billion for ultimate port development. The government has stated
this will be a public private partnership between the government and the
study was funded in part (75%) by the Canadian International Development
Agency (CIDA) while 25% of the funding was met by SNC-Lavalin.
primary objectives of the study were to provide the government with a
bankable report on the viability of Hambantota as a major hub port in
the southern region. It was also based on the governments having
identified the development of the Hambantota seaport as high priority.
— a failure
The study by
SNC-Lavalin however has proved to be a dismal failure. The
Ministry task force committee has ruled that a full scale bankable feasibility
study consisting of financial, commercial, economic and environmental
viability has not been submitted — instead only a partial feasibility
Despite it being only a partial report the study has identified a
location for the seaport at Karagam Lewaya. The location has been
identified despite the report not having sufficient data to determine
market requirements considering national, local and global shipping
The study has indicated that the land use of the port must be given for a
container port. This recommendation should have been gradual
taking into consideration the impact a decision of this nature would have
on the Colombo Port.
The study lacks in
sufficient detail a comprehensive economical and financial evaluation of
the projects. Data collected on waves and currents has been
limited to only two months of study when it should have been done over
two monsoons. A soil investigation has not been done in the sea
but limited to land only while no study has been done on sediment
transport and bathymetry.
An evaluation of shipping trends and an assessment of traffic projections
are also not given in sufficient detail.
With regard to sand barrowing and rock quarrying no evaluation has been
done while requirements for a mathematical modeling to study shore wave
climate, water quality, hydronamics, sediment transport and beach
development have all been indicated to be done in phase II.
SNC-Lavalin has not been commissioned for phase II of the project and
the task force committee has deemed that in ignoring these requirements
by maintaining it would be done in phase II is irresponsible on the part
The technical feasibility study of the report has also not addressed
requirements such as calmness study, rock supply to break waters,
location and quality of reclaimed materials and seasonal and long term
coastline changes for the selected site.
The principal purpose of such field investigations would have helped
determine at which level rock would be encountered for developing
structural concepts and estimating bedrock quantities.
is an indisputable fact that significant and unwavering community and
political support exists in favour of the Hambantota seaport project.
Even SNC -Lavalin in its final report on of the feasibility study noted
that there is tremendous enthusiasm and support for the project, and
expectation of benefits in terms of economic renewal and employment
project in fact is a unique opportunity for the government, the local
community and international partners to co-design a model harbour
development project as a tool for poverty alleviation. Ideally the
project is expected to provide direct and indirect benefits to the local
community, the region and the nation.
for this country once more the project is on hold following the
un-bankable feasibility study submitted by SNC-Lavalin International.