Interview: Sri Lankan manager sees China-Sri Lanka port cooperation great learning experience

(Xinhua) 11:19, October 25, 2021

COLOMBO, Oct. 24 (Xinhua) -- As a Commercial and Marketing Manager at the Hambantota International Port (HIP), Nishantha Gamage has seen first-hand the rapid development of two major public-private partnerships between Sri Lanka and China -- the Colombo International Container Terminal (CICT) and the Hambantota International Port (HIP).

Gamage told Xinhua that his time with the Group, from he first joined CICT in 2013, to his current position with HIP, has been a great learning experience that helped him gain several new skills as well as many opportunities for career advancement.

"CICT was the only deepwater port in South Asia and I began working there from its first year of operation. It was a great experience and gave me the opportunity to learn from experienced Sri Lankan bridge crane instructors," Gamage said.

At CICT, Gamage learned about terminal management and was invited for training courses conducted at Lome Container Terminal in Togo, West Africa. Starting from being a duty manager at CICT, he then moved on to HIP in 2017, embarking on a new journey full of challenges and opportunities.

"I became very well versed in container operations at CICT which was a large part of the terminal's business. However, the Hambantota International Port is an entirely different story, and I had to realign my thinking in terms of how a multi-service port operates," said Gamage.

For him, the challenging and exciting part lies in learning about multiple port activities such as RORO (Roll-on/roll-off) ships, bulk, breakbulk, marine services, bunkering activities and more, which requires him to adapt everything from scratch.

The HIP operations were officially launched in December 2017, just ten days before the arrival of the first RORO ship. "That initial operation saw the introduction of international standards in port operating procedure, which was a phenomenal learning curve for the local staff," Gamage reminisced.

"I had to learn to deal with different situations, be good at mobilizing people of different disciplines as well as managing gantry crane drivers. We understood that only by making good use of available resources while ensuring the safety of our personnel can these drivers be best productive," he adds.

Gamage said one of the greatest advantages of his job is the opportunity to learn different facets of the business. He is currently working at the port's Commercial and Marketing Department, given the task of developing its RORO business.

"This involves negotiating with shipping companies, on terminal service agreements (TSA), etc. The global RORO ship operators that we have signed terminal service agreements with have increased to six. The RORO business is becoming more stable as HIP has positioned itself on the global map," he added.

"Our operations are organized according to international standards and procedures of our global partner, China Merchants Port Holdings (CMPort), which operates more than 50 ports and terminals across the globe. This has helped us when looking at overseas models for benchmarking and maximizing our operational efficiency," Gamage said.

He said his experience working at the Colombo International Container Terminal was very good, and he is now building a great portfolio at the Hambantota International Port Group.

"I greatly appreciate being a part of these companies and being able to witness the success stories of these two giant Lanka-Sino joint ventures," Gamage said.

(Web editor: Zhong Wenxing, Hongyu)


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