Port operations


What government approvals are required in your jurisdiction for a port operator to commence operations following construction? How long does it typically take to obtain approvals?

Approval for commencement of operations should be obtained by the SLPA. The timeline for such approval will be concurrent with the negotiation of the concession terms.

Typical services

What services does a port operator and what services does the port authority typically provide in your jurisdiction? Do the port authorities typically charge the port operator for any services?

The SLPA provides marine services, pilotage and towage services on an exclusive basis. Port operators carry out terminal operations, ship to ship and import or export services. All charges and cargo dues are collected and recovered by the SLPA directly from vessel operators and cargo owners.

Access to hinterland

Does the government or relevant port authority typically give any commitments in relation to access to the hinterland? To what extent does it require the operator to finance development of access routes or interconnections?

The SLPA will grant the operator and its authorised servants and agents access to the concession areas, and access to and from such concession areas. Even though there is a railroad facility at the Port of Colombo, it is not functional. There is currently no arrangement between an operator and the SLPA for the development of access routes or interconnections. However, there is nothing to restrict a prospective operator from including such development in its proposal to the SLPA.


How do port authorities in your jurisdiction oversee terminal operations and in what circumstances may a port authority require the operator to suspend them?

The SLPA does not generally oversee private terminals. Its role in relation to such terminals will be as specified in the governing concession agreement entered into with the operator of such terminal. The SLPA may only intervene in such operations in the event of a national emergency, or under other circumstances specified in a concession agreement.

Port access and control

In what circumstances may the port authorities in your jurisdiction access the port area or take over port operations?

The SLPA shall have access to all areas of a port at any time. It may take over operations in the event of a national emergency or where the operator commits a fundamental breach of the governing concession agreement, or under other circumstances specified in the concession agreement.

Failure to operate and maintain

What remedies are available to the port authority or government against a port operator that fails to operate and maintain the port as agreed?

Such rights will be as per the default provisions of the concession agreement and will generally include step-in or substitution rights in addition to standard provisions for liquidated damages and termination.

Transferrable assets

What assets must port operators transfer to the relevant port authority on termination of a concession? Must port authorities pay any compensation for transferred assets?

Such rights will be as per the negotiated terms of the concession agreement, which are framed on a case-by-case basis. Handback provisions will generally contain a valuation method and payment for transferred assets.