Port City is “sailing” and how Sri Lankan companies and Industries can benefit ……..
Posted on August 14th, 2016

Dr Sarath Obeysekera

I was quite happy to hear the news about re- signing Port City agreement again .I am sure Sri Lanka can benefit immensely by having some exclusive clauses in the final agreement, to reflect the need to use local know and physical capabilities in building the port city .These are some useful suggestions we can propose.

Attached photograph is taken last week  from a Drone above our shipyard located on Modera .This floating structure with four legs can carry 1000 tons. These type of structure is built first time in Sri Lanka designed by Sri Lankan Engineers and local labour force .Some major steel components has to be imported as Steel Corporation does not manufacture the same. It took only 4 months to design and build ,and we will be using it for piling of the harbour to build a Lift to raise ships of 65 meter long /1300 ton weight .

Point I am trying to make is that we Sri Lankans can do anything as we were historically developed nation with an inbuilt innovative ideas and talent.

Now back to Port city ……

Port city will have a marina for parking Yachts for rich people who will come to Sri Lanka to stay in the financial city and even gamble in Casinos  ( If Chinese fund the project and have some land on long lease ,they will surely build casinos as the Chinese love them) .Contracts for building offshore structures need floating barges like what we did ,and Government should impose rules on  Chinese  to allow local companies in participating during construction .They cannot refuse as the funds deployed are  loans not outright grants .

When high rise buildings are going to be built, most of the work can be done by local companies. Under ETCA  we can import labour from India ( or even form Chinese labour supply companies)  place them in the Finance City isolate them and re-export back after work permit  expire ,so that they do not settle here like they do in other countries .These local labour can be deployed by local companies who have enough capabilities to manage them.

Another problem we will be facing is that large steel H beams etc used for buildings are not manufactured in Sri Lanka .I assume that steel tonnage to be used will be 100s of thousands  .We should ask Chinese to start a steel plant in hinterland ( there is a 200 acre land in Muthurajawela ) which can be used for the purpose) which can hot or cold draw steel beams.

Of course we do not have iron ore, but Chinese can ship iron ore and we have the value added in Sri Lanka.

To melt iron ore we need energy .Government plans to build a floating LNG Storage plant In Sri Lanka ,and we can expand capacity to provide LNG gas to melt steel .Same LNG source can augment the power generation by installing few more turbine driven power plants near Port City .

Steel melting  plant should be a PPP ( Private Public Partnership) and run efficiently and even export steel to Male  ( Male is reclaiming hundreds of acres  to develop a city like Port city in Hulu Male ).

Then the cladding material for the building to be imported, Sri Lankan capacity can be developed to manufacture the same. As there will be a shortage of cement, Chinese can start a plant to make Breezer Blocks using local Gypsum and Sea sand to replace cement blocks and clay bricks.

Government failed to develop local industries when they build Hambantota Port and Airport as everything came from China including labour .

There are many other areas such as providing Synthetic pipe materials for the port city for water supply and sewerage .I do not think Maharaja and Central Industries can accommodate the demand. We should ask Chinese on Indians to start manufacturing   them in Sri Lanka.

Only problem we may have is ;

We may build using local iron material but we need indigenous Iron Fisted local managers to manage the joint venture enterprises.

Government ,Centre for Strategic Development,UDA,Megaoplis  may have  many Harward”  trained wizards .But are they good as implementers ? ( I note that a State minister is also going to Harward to sharpen (straighten?) his knowledge )

What we need is a force to implement from our local management teams who should be remunerated well .

( one stupid idea is to request all the purported black” money pumped out from Sri Lanka is allowed to be brought back to make them white” and pardon the people who repatriate the cash under a general amnesty .If the government can pardon some people and give them Ministerial Posts and exonerate from FCID action ,why not exonerate other Black Money Marketeers”  as well !)

Dr Sarath Obeysekera

4 Responses to “Port City is “sailing” and how Sri Lankan companies and Industries can benefit ……..”

  1. Nanda Says:

    We already lack man power for construction and labour intensive jobs. We cannot succeed in industries employing a lot of people. We should improve infrastructure to
    1. export services
    2. create high technology industries
    However, locals need a lot of training and brain washing to learn to take responsibility, jot just the salary.

  2. Ananda-USA Says:

    The ivory towers of universities awarding degrees and certificates don’t train efficient and effective managers; not Harvard, not Yale, not MIT, nor Imperial College, but it is businesses functioning in the real world who train such managers by making that a condition of their survival.

    I received my PhD from MIT, but I learned to manage efficiently only by doing hands-on-work in demanding jobs in private institutions, where my progress depended on the efficiency and impact of my performance on the job!

  3. aloy Says:

    Dr. Sarath,
    Do you support ETCA only to get Indian workers to work in SL projects. If we import from India they will never go back. They will remain in SL by bribing officials. However if Chinese come for their projects they will always go back. ECTA is a means for UNP to stay in power and should not be allowed to happen. They brought in Channel 4 to Sirikotha and partied with them. What more can we expect from them. It is better to stay in our current level of development if we cannot find workers for projects.
    What is the point in spending our own tax payers money (at least 75% of the people) and develop Megapolis etc. only to hand over them to Kallathonis?. See what has happened to Colombo and suburbs. Who is enjoying the infrastructure?. It is only a few moneyed Colombians and minorities including Maldivians, while majority have to commute from distant places.

  4. Ananda-USA Says:


    I completely agree with your statements above.

    We should be developing our country to benefit our people, not for some arbitrary goal divorced from that objective.

    If we cannot develop using our own people because they are not ready due to lack of skills and knowledge, let us do that at a pace that allows us to train them and then do the work, instead of denying them that opportunity and permanently displacing them with foreigners who will never go back.

    I agree with Aloy that Indians who come to SL will NEVER return to India. Besides, most of them will be Indian Tamils who will very comfortably settle in permanently to join their bretheren already here!

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