Magampura Mahinda Rajapaksa Port (MMRP) in Hambantota has received only 24 vessels in total during the years 2011 and 2012, the latest Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) Annual Report disclosed.
The first phase of MMRP, built using Chinese funding, was opened for operations in November 2010. The port which was touted as a landmark project that could challenge ports in India and Singapore had only received six ships in 2011 and 18 ships in 2012.
The Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) last year announced that all vessels carrying motor vehicles, except heavy vehicles, would be directed to MMRP in an apparent bid to increase the ship traffic at MMRP.
However, the reasons cited were the berthing delays and space constraints at Colombo Port.
The total estimated cost of the first phase of MMRP according to the SLPA was US $ 361 million and out of which 85 percent was funded by Exim Bank of China.
However, in August 2011, the SLPA said it would need additional funding of US $ 148 million to cover equipment including cranes, cost escalations in building the port and digging the basin and entrance channel.
According to the COPE report, the annual interest payable by the SLPA on MMRP amounts to: Rs.2,208 million (2012), Rs.2,479 million (2013), Rs.2,233 million (2014), Rs.1,987 million (2015) and Rs.1,742 million (2016).
To increase the income of MMRP, the SLPA said it had invited interested—both local and foreign— parties to set up business within the MMRP premises in two stages.
Under the first stage, the Cabinet has approved seven investment proposals and business venture agreements with two of the investors have already been signed.
The SLPA has informed the COPE that nine investors had been considered under stage two, who would invest US $ 1,105 million.