By Cassandra Mascarenhas
Strengthening ties between ports in the Asian region, the 13th conference of the International Network of Affiliated Ports, the INAP 2011 Symposium, commenced yesterday upon the theme ‘Bridging Global Regions through Affiliated Ports for Mutual Cooperation’ and showcased the latest developments undertaken at the six participating member ports.
Held at the Cinnamon Lakeside, the Sri Lanka Ports Authority hosted the event for the third time and it attracted delegations from six countries including Sri Lanka.
The six countries included Japan representing the Port of Kochi, Philippines representing the Port of Subic Bay and the Port of Cebu, Indonesia representing the Port of Tanjung Perak, South Korea representing the Port of Mokpo, Sri Lanka representing the Port of Colombo as well as a delegation from China, who is also a member of INAP.
The theme chosen for this year’s symposium was apt as it clearly defines a myriad of regionalisms based on trade, economic, security and various other considerations. The predominant view aired at the symposium was that regionalism presents an important alternative to the homogenising force of globalisation today, as regionalism includes the awareness of the local identities and former experiences that can be remixed into the new system.
Sri Lanka also played host to the first INAP symposium held back in 1998 when the new port of Kochi was opened for service in March 1998. At the opportunity of the commissioning of the new Port of Kochi, MP M.H.M. Ashraff, the then Minister of Ports Development, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction for the Government of Sri Lanka proposed that an opportunity should be created for all affiliate ports to meet together. The proposal was agreed to by the Governor of Kochi.
The Sri Lanka Ports Authority, upon this decision, held an International Symposium with six other participating ports, all with Sister-Port Agreements with the Port of Kochi or the Port of Colombo, were the Port of Subic Bay, the Philippines; the Port of Tanjung Perak, Indonesia; the Port of Qingdao, the People’s Republic of China; and the Port of New Orleans, the USA.
At the inauguration speakers included SLPA Chairman as well as newly-elected INAP Chairman Dr. Priyath B. Wickrama, Governor of the Kochi Prefectural Government Masanao Ozaki and Chief Guest at the event, the Deputy Minister of Ports and Highways Rohitha Abeygunewardana
The second session of the day consisted of country presentations from each of the delegations, commencing with a presentation about the Port of Kochi, Japan.
Located at the centre of Kochi Prefecture, Kochi New Port marks its 14th anniversary this year and in the future plans on opening another quay, 280m in length and 14m in depth for 60,000 DWT class sea-going vessels, in addition to the two existing ones.
Having embarked on an industrial promotion policy through which they plan to aggressively expand the market outside the prefecture, the policy also aims to strengthen industrial ties within the prefecture and challenge new industrial domains while building up economic strength.
“The market of Asia will grow continuously, so the importance of the Asian market is likely to grow. An economic mission to INAP conferences can not only deepen friendship exchange among member ports but also provide a good chance for enterprises in Kochi to see and experience the market of Asia,” said the Chief of the Port of Kochi, Norikazu Sawamura.
He added that INAP should first concentrate on deepening the understanding among member ports through the active exchange of opinions and through it, INAP needs to enthusiastically promote economic exchange so that more cargoes can be handled by each member port. Such activities can help the member countries find new markets and build mutual cooperative relationships amongst ports in the world, he explained.
This was followed by a documentary on the Port of Subic Bay, Philippines which was formerly a base for several countries, namely Spain, US and Japan due to its strategic location and is now under the ownership of the Philippine Government. It has now been established as a free port with major investments coming in and has moved onto maximising resources and is now working towards establishing relationships with new markets.
The third country presentation was on the Port of Tanjung Perak, Indonesia which is currently undergoing an improvement plan for their 25 sea mile long navigation channel. To be managed and maintained by a private company, the improvement plan includes expanding the width of the channel from the current 100 metres to 200 metres and increasing its depth to 12 metres during the first phase. Furthermore this plan will allow two-way traffic with a vessel capacity up to 50,000 DWT and a traffic capacity of 59,000 ship movements per year.
This plan was undertaken in order to make the port safer for the navigation of vessels, to minimise ship accidents, improve port services, to be able to handle bigger vessels and to accommodate two-way traffic. These improvements will in turn bring about the increase of industrial growth, will accelerate local and national development and will attract more investments.
Yet another port in the Philippines was presented next, the Port of Cebu, which has been a major trading centre for a couple of centuries, commencing trade under the Spanish rule in the 1800s when it was opened to world trade with significant exports.
Today, under the Philippine Government, it is the country’s main domestic shipping port with a vision to become a world-class port that is financially sound, economically profitable and self-sustaining with a passion to deliver safe, efficient and effective port services.
Current projects and programmes being undertaken at the Port of Cebu include the construction of a bulk handling facility at the Cebu International Port, the upgrade of Cebu International Port berths at the Mactan Channel and ISO 9001 and 14001 certification (quality management system and environmental management system). Through these upgrade, the Port of Cebu, which joined INAP in 2000, hopes to improve the quality of their service and enforce sustainable practices.
The fifth presentation of the afternoon session was on the Mokpo New Port located in South Korea which boasts the best distribution infrastructure, providing a comprehensive transport service. The first multi-purpose port in the world, it plans on opening a new container route very soon and focuses on changing the very concept and idea of what a port should be.
The final presentation of the day was on the Port of Colombo, the only country that represents South Asia in INAP. In the presentation, it was revealed that world container traffic had risen to 527 million TEUs in 2010 from the 38 million TEUs in 1980. The regions covered by the members of INAP accounts for 55% of container traffic and with container growth now at a tremendous high, these regions are now growing above the world average.
“Sri Lanka has great potential to grow, working with other INAP members especially in reaching its goal to become a maritime hub in the region and is already well on its way to achieve this goal with the development of ports in all four corners of the country and we will strive to make it a value added logistics centre,” said the Port of Colombo representative Upul Jayatissa. With the current expansion of the Port of Colombo, it is expected to reach a capacity of 5.2 million container TEUs by 2013.
Pix by Upul Abayasekara