30 Year Development Plan of the North Port of Colombo

30 Year Development Plan of the North Port of Colombo


Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) has initiated a number of development projects namely East Container Terminal -II (ECT – I1), West Container Terminal -I (WCT -I) and WCT -II etc, in line with national Port Master Plan. It is expected to complete these projects by year 2030. Considering the requirement of the future traffic demand SLPA appointed AECOM Infrastructure & Environment UK Limited (AECOM) to undertake a feasibility study for the Colombo North Port (CNP). AECOM’s services were provided under the ADB funded Transport Project Preparatory Facility Loan 3425-SRI: Transport Project Preparatory Facility, ‘Consultancy Service for Feasibility Study for Colombo North Port Development Project’

The Colombo Port Development Plan presented therein gives a concept for “North Port’ based on a projection of traffic growth. The feasibility study for CNP was required to update the traffic forecast to take account of recent events and assess in more detail the available options for port development in the area north of the existing port facilities.

The intent of the proposed CNP development is to provide additional port capacity within a sheltered harbour for future freight traffic. The primary aim is to accommodate forecast growth in gateway cargo and transshipment containers up to the year 2050. Other cargo types (i.e.dry bulk, liquid bulk, general cargo and Roo) were also be considered. Further, the existing development plan for the Port of Colombo will be concluded by year 2030/2032 and it requires to initiate development plans after 2030.

The technical feasibility study considered vessel access for the largest future vessels, trade demand and berth requirements to meet that demand, sheltered basin with safe navigation and mooring, optimum number of berths for the various trades, and associated terminal area with adequate storage, operation, and building space conforming to internationally accepted norms.

Data Review and Collection

The study takes into account available data, has commissioned new fieldwork data where appropriate, carried out metocean and vessel studies, made traffic forecasts and developed preferred layouts for each trade, together with phased development plans, cost estimates, programme and financial analysis. Options for private sector participation were considered and the study included an environmental assessment as part of the technical assessment. A range of development options were considered and a shortlist of five options assessed in greater depth, using multi-criteria analysis. Finally, the preferred option provides 3 container terminals with total 4,600m quay, a multi- purpose terminal with 700m quay, two oil berths and logistics/warehousing space as shown below.

Development Timeline

The terminals are to be developed in stages in response to traffic growth. Stage development plan prepared for terminal availability up to 2050 based on the consultant market forecasts is shown below.

Environment and Social Impact Assessment 

An ESIA has been carried out. The significant residual impacts are fairly evenly split across both the construction and operational phases of the CNP development. Significant residual impacts during construction are primarily associated with habitat loss due to the construction of port infrastructure as well as socio-economic effects. Significant residual impacts during operation are primarily associated with changes in the physical marine environment due to the presence of structures including the breakwaters and river training wall.

Whilst the project is likely to result in a number of significant adverse residual impaets, many of which are associated with the marine environment, these are largely unavoidable with a project of the nature and scale of CNP. It will therefore, be important that the relevant consenting authorities weigh these adverse impacts against the wider economic benefits that are likely to result from the development. Furthermore, it is recommended that the EIA report’s mitigation measures and outline ESMP will be made available as part of the tender documents for the construction contractors. The responsibility for the implementation of environmental and social impact mitigation and monitoring measures will be borne by SLPA however, it is expected that the actual implementation of such measures will largely be carried out by SLPA’s appointed Contractors (through contractual arrangements) under the supervision of the SLPA and project lenders as well as existing regulatory monitoring mechanisms.