ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s ports and shipping ministry has decided to transfer the eastern port of Oluvil, which got silted from the time it was opened, to the fisheries ministry, Minister of Ports &Shipping Sagala Ratnayaka said.
“Yesterday, we decided on Oluvil. It is difficult to be used for commercial operations and is only useful for fisheries,” he told a news conference.
“We decided to hand it over to the fisheries ministry.”
Oluvil port, with an eight-metre depth, was built on a proposal by former ports and shipping minister M.H.M. Ashraff and opened in 2013.
Built at a cost of 45 million euro, with a loan from Denmark, it has never been used by commercial shipping as the harbour basin and entrance channel silted up, indicating flaws in its siting and design.
Construction of Oluvil port also led to coastal erosion farther north, and adversely affected the livelihood of fishermen in the area, according to government reports.
Oluvil port was described as an “unmitigated disaster that should never have been done” by a private-public partnership expert at an engineers’ forum last year.
According to the government’s latest draft of its shipping policy, the Port of Oluvil was to be activated by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority, which controls it, by dredging the harbour basin and entrance channel.
The government has also planned to conduct “beach nourishment” with Danish aid to counter coastal erosion.
The proposed solution of dredging the coastal area south of the Oluvil harbour and sand nourishment of the coastal area north of the harbour was estimated at 15 million US dollars.