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Sri Lanka’s Colombo port swamped in 40,000 import boxes over Coronavirus

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Colombo Port is swamped in over 40,000 containers after a Coroanvirus crisis disrupted economic activities and concessions given to importers are ending this week, a logistics official said.

Colombo Port’s three container terminals have been operating throughout the crisis at full capacity, but vessel calls are starting to fall.

“Though the port has been functioning there has been a big issue about transport,” Romesh David, Chief Executive of South Asia Gateway Terminals said told an online forum organized by Advocata Institute, a Colombo based think tank.

“Typically the three terminals have about 10,000-12,000 TEUs (twenty foot equivalent units) at a time.

“This has now tripled and there are close to 40,000 TEUs, which has caused massive difficulties inside the port. In reality it is the most expensive space in the world.”

Terminals agreed to waive rent from March 14 to April 15 up to April 14.

At first there were delays in customs clearance and transport but the issues have now been solved.

The concessions ends after April 16 and importers will have to pay port rent and terminal charges.

“The only barriers right now are the importers themselves’ ability and willingness to clear,” David said.

“On top of that shipping lines will also charge demurrage for container.”

Sri Lanka is under curfew from the third week of March to curb the spread of Coronavirus and Colombo has been declared a high risk zone.

Sri Lanka is aggressively contact tracing and has confirmed 238 Coronavirus patients. Authorities are hunting a cluster linked to some underserved areas close to the port. (Colombo/Apr16/2020)