Sri Lanka to redevelop East Container Terminal after ruling out sale

Sri Lanka rules out selling ECT

The Sri Lankan government will not sell or lease the East Container Terminal at Colombo Port to India and will instead begin its own redevelopment project, according to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

A government statement said Rajapaksa made the promise during a meeting with trade union representatives. The move means Sri Lanka will withdraw from an agreement struck by the previous government to sell the ECT to India.

Rajapaksa, who became president in December 2019, renegotiated the contract to allow the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) to retain 51% ownership of the ECT, with 49% going to Indian container terminal operator Adani Ports.

The agreement included plans to obtain a loan from Japan after sale and purchasing construction equipment with the loan money.

Rajapaksa explained that the Eastern Terminal will be sustainably developed under the investment programme. He also stated that he intends to hand over the operation of the West Container Terminal to the SLPA and invited the trade union to submit plans for redevelopment.

Furthermore, the president concluded insisted that he would not give up sovereignty of key infrastructure in exchange for foreign investment.

The announcement continues a government policy of renegotiating foreign infrastructure investment agreements. The previous government, the president’s office said, had leased the Hambantota Port to the Chinese government for 99 years.

After taking office Rajapaksa renegotiated the terms of that agreement so that the Sri Lankan government regained control of the Port’s security.

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