New breakwater in Weligama to propel shipbuilding sector

A feasibility study on establishing a breakwater in Kapparathota, Weligama and improving the infrastructure facilities of the boat and shipbuilding sector of Sri Lanka is expected to be completed by the end of this month.

The feasibility study will identify the possibilities of establishing a breakwater in Weligama for launching purposes while looking into the chances of establishing facilities for ships and boat berthing and launching, according to the Export Development Board (EDB).

EDB noted in a press communiqué that the prefeasibility study on this regard has already been completed.

Meanwhile, considering the dire need to develop a regulatory framework to regulate the boat and shipbuilding sector and the yacht and nautical activities of the country, the EDB has initiated the development of a regulatory framework covering the entire value chain, excluding fishing boats of the industry.

The framework is being developed under the guidance of the Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade and in collaboration with the Ministry of Ports and Shipping, Merchant Shipping Secretariat, and other government and private sector institutions.

According to the EDB, in compiling the framework, international expertise has been obtained and the final report will be completed by end-2019. Thereafter, it will be handed over to an authorised government agency for implementation.

Fund allocation for both the feasibility study and the regulatory framework was made through the Budget 2018, according to EDB.

Under the National Export Strategy (2018-2020), the boat and shipbuilding industry has been identified as a focused and emerging export sector as it offers a wide variety of services and products to international markets.

Boat and shipbuilding is a leading industry which contributes a significant share in the basket of exports and continues to grow, with a wide variety of products and services being offered to the international markets.

There are around 20-25 active boatyards around the country producing various types of boats providing direct employment to around 2,000 and indirect employment to around another 10,000 people.

According to the EDB, the direct employment figure could be doubled within the next two years. Sri Lanka’s major shipbuilding products include multipurpose platform supply vessels, anchor handling and supply vessels, crew boats, passenger vessels, harbour berthing and towing tugs, naval and coast guard vessels, landing crafts, fire fighting vessels, and fishing vessels.

At the moment, the main importers of products in this sector are the US, UK, Norway, Sweden, Holland, France, Iran, UAE, Yemen, Somalia, Gambia, Nigeria, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Maldives, Seychelles, Singapore, and Mauritius.

Export revenue from the sector was $ 97 million in 2017 which went to $ 26.7 in 2018.

– Madhusha Thavapalakumar