Welcome the Presidents move to develop Sri Lanka as the maritime hub of the Indain Ocean
Posted on September 18th, 2020

Dr Sudath Gunasekara Mahanuwara

The maritime and Air hub of Asia in the 21st  century

The above map shows the relative location of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean in relation to four continents and four Oceans Atlantic, Indian Pacific and Antarctic Oceans. This also shows the maritime and Air links of all these four continents with Sri Lanka. The validity of the President’s plan has to be viewed in this broader perspective. You will also notice the unique geographical location Sri Lanka enjoys in its centrality in relation to four continents and the wide expansion of four oceanic territory extending from, Africa in the West to Australia in the East and the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal in the North to Antarctic in the South pole across the Indian Ocean which no other country in the world is blessed with. Its unique location right at the center of the Great East- West oceanic trade route that carries the biggest volume of freight to and fro the 21st century Indo Pacific pivot of economic and political power itself has bestowed a rare fortune unbelievable for any country in the world.

Besides making it the South Asia’s foremost maritime logistic and distribution hub located at the cross roads of fastest growing region in the world in proximity to many emerging markets in the world it is in this backdrop development planners and politicians have to assess the future development potentialities of this country. Already it is said that Sri Lanka is served by all the top 20 global shipping lines and Colombo is already ranking no 23 among the top 30 container ports in the world.  Its locational advantage in terms of sea and Air connectivity with all these countries and its unlimited potentials for development in terms of comparative advantages are even over Dubai and Singapore is a foregone conclusion.

The Island is also blessed with physical facilities for first class harbours right round its maritime belt. Already we have six such developed ports Colombo, Galle, Hambantota, Oluwil, Ttrincommallee and Kankasasnature and six Airports vize Katunayaka.Ratmalana, Mattala, Trinco and KKS.  What is required is to develop these ports and harbours to their maximum capacities with all modern technologies and service facilities perhaps with first class land connectivity between Colombo Trinco and KKS, as we already have the Colombo Hambantota link is a first class national master development plan.

Beside developing Sri Lanka as the maritime and Air hub in the Indian Ocean I also would like to draw the attention of the government in other areas alike Ship Building Ship Repairing, and Fishing industry making use of the vast expanse of oceanic territory that has the potential to claim the biggest fishing nation in the world. The availability of skilled technical, managerial and work force will definitely be a boost to these industries. The only missing link is visionary and patriotic political leadership for the past 72 years. The 69.5 million who elected Gothabhaya as their President expect him to fill this long felt vacuum. His above declaration therefore I hope will be a good omen in this direction.

 The Indian Purana rishis said ‘Bhuu madyaye Lankiyatiti Lanka’

At this point it may be recalled that even in prehistoric times this Island was regarded as a world  hub For example.The Indian Purana rishis perceived it as lying at the centre of the world when they said ‘Bhuu madyaye lankiiyatiti Lanka”. They wrote, it is called Lanka as it is located right at the centre of the earth.

Even in the early historic times this Island had always been the Asia’s cynosure and meeting place and trade hub between the East and the West. Traders and travellers both from the West Rome, Greece and the Arab world and China in the Far East have passed through this Island as a transshipment point and a trading hub. It had been famous for its gems, spices and elephants and it had been a bee hive of international trade, in the Indian Ocean. Moreover Sri Lanka also had established diplomatic ties both with the West and the East at very high levels. For example Diplomatic contact between the Emperor Claudius and a King of Sri Lanka in AD 52 is recorded. It is said that the Sri Lankan Kings Ambassador sat next to Claudius on his right when the British captive King was paraded before Emperor as a war captive.  That was the name and the fame this country enjoyed at such ancient times. This shows the recognition Sri Lanka had got in the ancient world.  This also shows how nature had already decreed Sri Lanka as the maritime trade hub in the Indian Ocean long before we began to realize about it.

I wish  in ten years’ time once again Sri Lanka will emerge as the modern miracle of Asia under the direction of President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.

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