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* Sri Lanka's southern Hambantota Port begins commercial operations
Wed, Jun 6, 2012, 12:59 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Jun 06, Hambantota: Transshipment operations commenced today at Sri Lanka's second International sea port, Magam Ruhunupura Mahinda Rajapaksa (MRMR) International Port at Hambantota with two vessels carrying vehicles berthed at the port.

The ship, Ellision Sun carrying 1,000 cars from Chennai, India berthed at the Chinese-built port today.

The vehicles brought by the Ellision Sun will be transshipped to Algeria by the car carrier Asian Legend on June 15.

The N4K FRICIA from Japan, the first ship carrying 15 vehicles for transshipment, called at the Hambantota Port earlier.

Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) sources said more ships carrying vehicles are due to berth at this port shortly.

The SLPA had decided to divert all vehicle shipments to the Hambantota port from May 31 as a measure to relieve the congestion at Sri Lanka's main port in Colombo.

"The unloading of imported vehicles and transshipment activities in the future will be carried out at the Magampura Harbour to overcome congestion at the Colombo Port," Ports and Highways Minister Rohitha Abeygunawardena has said.

According to the Minister vehicles brought to the MRMR Port will qualify for a tax concession and the Port will also handle all customs clearance and reshipment work.

"This will also save a large sum of money owed to shipping firms as demurrage fees," the Minister has said.

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