Sri Lanka on Tuesday said it will develop the West Container Terminal (WCT) at the Colombo Port along with India and Japan, in a near-360 degree policy turn from a month ago, when the two partners were ejected from a 2019 tripartite agreement to jointly develop the East Container Terminal (ECT), amid port unions’ resistance to “foreign involvement”.
Briefing the media on decisions taken at Monday’s weekly Cabinet meeting, spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said approval had been granted to develop the WCT with investors nominated by India and Japan. While India has named Adani Ports, which was earlier nominated to invest in the ECT, Japan is yet to respond, the Minister said.
After Sri Lanka reneged on the 2019 agreement, signed by the former Maithripala Sirisena-Ranil Wickremesinghe government, Colombo offered the WCT as an alternative, allowing the foreign investors to hold a higher stake. In the ECT project agreed upon earlier, the Sri Lanka Ports Authority was to hold 51 % stakes.
In the WCT proposal, cleared now, India and Japan will be accorded 85 % stakes, similar to the nearby Colombo International Container Terminal, where China Merchants Port Holdings Company Limited holds 85 % stakes, authorities said.