Serving as the main point of imports and exports, as well as the facilitator of other trade pacts, the Port of Colombo, also known as the Colombo Harbour, is the main shipping port in Sri Lanka. The Port is located in the Northern region within the Colombo city, neighbouring the Fort, Kochchikade, Kotahena, Modera and Mattakkuliya locales. The Port is managed by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority, which also handles the ports in Galle, Hambantota, Oluvil, Trincomalee, Point Pedro and Kankasanturai.
Early history suggests that the venue has been in operation as a port for more than 2000 years with Roman, Arab, and Chinese traders visiting it. There is also evidence of Arabic Muslim traders settling in the nearby locations, and their heritage resulting in the Sri Lankan Moor community at present.
However, the first proper reference to the Port of Colombo is around the turn of the 15th century, when the Portuguese were making their way towards the island. Since then, the port was managed and used as the main point of travel and cargo handling during the Portuguese, Dutch and British periods. Perhaps the busiest time for the port during this era was when Sri Lanka was a British colony, and the Brits sending out tea and other exports out of the country.
Terminals of Port of Colombo
- Jaya Container Terminal
- East Container Terminal ECT
- Unity Container Terminal
- South Asia Gateway Terminal
- Colombo International Container Terminal
Currently, the Colombo Harbour comprises of three main terminals: Jaya Container Terminal, South Asia Gateway Terminal, and Colombo International Container Terminals. In addition, the port is also home to a few Feeder terminals, as well as the Colombo Dockyard. The vicinity of the port is a world of its own, complete with accommodation and dining facilities, office spaces, police station, Customs unit, fuel stations, mechanical divisions, as well as guest areas.
The Port of Colombo sits on a land area of 1,200 acres, has 51 berths and 21 piers, and annually handles a container volume of 5.7 million TEUs, which accumulates to more than 30 million tonnes of cargo each year. Given the leading role that the port plays in Sri Lanka’s exports and imports sector, it is no surprise that the Port of Colombo is among the top 40 busiest ports in the world.