Sri Lanka opposition to raise issue of cost escalation in Hambantota Port project

Apr 24, Colombo: Sajith Premadasa, deputy leader of Sri Lanka’s main opposition United National Party (UNP) and Hambanthota District parliamentarian, says he would raise the issue of the Hambanthota Port fiasco at the Parliamentary Consultative Committee meeting on Ports and Shipping on Wednesday (27).

Premadasa had made the comment to the media in reference to a story which said an additional US$ 148 million (Rs. 15.9 billion) the public will have to bear on the Hambanthota Port project due to cost escalations that may arise from blasting and removing the bedrock under the harbour.

A recent report in Sunday Leader quoting Sri Lanka Ports Authority chairman Dr. Bandu Priyath Wickrama said the Chinese contractor was claiming an extra 4.8 billion rupees for the additional work to excavate the harbour basin and channel.

Premadasa has told a local print media that previously too he had raised questions on the Hambantota port project at the Parliamentary Consultative Committee meetings on Ports and Shipping, but never got a satisfactory answer.

Nevertheless, he has said the matter would be raised at the parliamentary Consultative Committee meeting when it meets this week.

UNP Parliamentarian Harin Fernando had said that no ships were coming to the Hambanthota Harbour due to the fact that there is a large rock.

Deputy Minister of Ports and Transports of Sri Lanka Rohitha Abeygunawardana recently rejected the opposition accusations that a large rock layer blocks the movements of ships in the newly built Hambanthota port and challenged the UNP MP for a debate.

The Hambanthota Port project is estimated to cost US$ 360 million of which US$ 306 million was from a loan from Exim Bank China and the balance funding was from the Government of Sri Lanka.

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