The 21st century Port of Hambantota, officially named Magampura Mahinda Rajapaksa Port after the ruling president, has become Sri Lanka’s second largest and most modern port since construction of the port began in January 2008 and the first terminal was opened in November 2010. Due to larger areas available, Hambantota is better developed than Colombo to provide services to ships such as refueling, maintenance, and bunkering provisions. The port development project is still going on, in the final phase the port located at Hambantota-Mirijjiwela will cover 2,000 hectares with 33 anchoring yards, with a total capacity of 20 million TEUs per year. In comparison, the goal for five Colombo terminals by 2015 is a total capacity of 10.8 million TEUs. (The twenty-foot equivalent unit of cargo capacity describes the capacity of container ships and container terminals. It is based on the volume of a standard-sized container.) The government ordered all car imports to come through Hambantota in July 2012, to unclog the capital Colombo. Critics say, such measures are indicating that the new port needs additional support after trafiic did not yet meet the expectations. When completed, the Port of Hambantota will not only be the largest of Sri Lanka but the biggest port constructed on land at all.
Hambantota is located at the southern tip of the island just at the most important international shipping line connecting the Middle East, Africa and Europe with East Asia and Australia. The shipping route is used by an estimated 36,000 ships annually. Colombo and Hambantota combined will be one of the most important ports between Singapur and Dubai, playing in the same league as Karachi, Mumbai and Kolkata.
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