19 Nov 2010
Sri Lanka's new Chinese built port in the Southern city of Hambantota was formally commissioned by President Mahinda Rajapaksa Thursday with the symbolic entry of a converted troopship
The 361 million US dollar port will initially be used to supply bunkers to the main east-west shipping route passing Sri Lanka.
The government is also promoting port related industries including, refineries, vehicle assembly, fertilizer packaging and entrepot trade at the port.
"I call upon and invite investors both local and foreign to help make this area into a trade zone like it was in the ancient past," President Mahinda Rajapaksa said.
The new port has been named the 'Ruhunu Magampura Mahinda Rajapaksa' port. Magampura is an ancient name for Hambantota.
President Rajapaksa's elder brother Chamal, speaker of Sri Lanka's parliament wished his brother a happy birthday in a nationally broadcast ceremony and requested his sibling to set aside a part of the customs revenue at the port for places of worship in the area.
Rajapksa said in the second century, under then King Gajaba, there had been a port in the area called Godpabbatha which had traded with China and Arabia.
A stone inscription had been found in nearby Godawaya Temple which indicated that a part of the revenues of the old port had been given to the temple.
"I am requesting the President to set aside a part of the revenue of the port for places of religious worship in Hambantota, Moneragala and inscribe it in stone," Speaker Rajapaksa said.
President Rajapaksa is due to take oaths for his second term tomorrow, after winning elections in January.
Source: Lanka Business Online