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Sri Lanka clears port project to be built by India, Japan firms

The WCT is strategically located next to a $500-million Chinese-run container jetty within Colombo’s sprawling port.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi |
March 3, 2021 3:18:01 am
Dalit girl, strangulated, Aligarh“The discussions to develop the WCT will be only with India and Japan,” Sri Lankan Information Minister Keheliya Rambukwella told reporters in Colombo, according to AFP.

A MONTH after walking out of an agreement with Delhi and Tokyo on jointly developing the partially built East Container Terminal (ECT), the Sri Lankan government, led by the Rajapaksa brothers, has decided to offer the West Container Terminal (WCT) to Indian and Japanese companies.

The Sri Lankan government said the proposal by Adani Ports and SEZ consortium has been “approved by the Indian High Commission (in Colombo)”. Indian government sources, however, disputed this.

The WCT is strategically located next to a $500-million Chinese-run container jetty within Colombo’s sprawling port.

According to the Sri Lankan government’s department of information, the Lankan cabinet “has approved the proposal to develop the West Container Terminal on Build, Operate and Transfer basis for a period of 35 years as a public-private partnership with Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Limited and its local representative John Keels Holding PLC, and the Sri Lanka Ports Authority.”

“Accordingly, the Build, Operate and Transfer Plan approved by the negotiating committee had been forwarded to the High Commission of India and the Embassy of Japan, requesting them to nominate investors. The proposal presented by the Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Limited (APSEZ consortium) has been approved by the Indian High Commission. However, no investor has been named by the Japanese government,” the government decision said.

“The discussions to develop the WCT will be only with India and Japan,” Sri Lankan Information Minister Keheliya Rambukwella told reporters in Colombo, according to AFP.

Rambukwella said the cabinet decided on Monday to allow India and Japan to have an 85 per cent stake in the WCT. This is similar to the terms set for the Colombo International Container Terminal (CICT), where China Merchants Port Holdings Company Limited holds 85 per cent stake, officials said. These terms are better than the earlier deal on the ECT – where the Sri Lanka Ports Authority would have 51 per cent stake. What this means is that Colombo has made a U-turn, and is offering a sweeter deal on the WCT.

 

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