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Sri Lankan freight company considers expansion

December 29 - Sri Lankan freight forwarder FPS Lanka is considering setting up offices in the new southern port of Hambantota and in eastern Trincomalee harbour to handle an anticipated influx of cargo flows for post-war reconstruction.

FPS Lanka managing director Gihan Nanayakkara has confirmed that he expects new logistics contracts to be awarded in the first quarter of 2011 as projects get finalised.

FPS Lanka signed an agency agreement with Bertling Logistics India earlier this year to offer logistics services; one of the reasons for the collaboration was the expected increase in cargo flows for post-war reconstruction and growth.

Sri Lanka's 30-year ethnic war ended in May 2009 resulting in an economic boom, with growth forecast to hit eight percent this year, along with a sharp increase in tourists. Nanayakkara said the partnership could be extended to other locations if necessary.

Sri Lanka embarked on huge infrastructure projects even before the war ended, with several highways, railways, power plants and high-rise buildings being built along with an airport and port in Hambantota and another port in Colombo.

Hambantota port was opened only a month ago and lies close to the main maritime trade route.

Nanayakkara said Bertling has its own fleet of ships, including heavy lift vessels, and can provide the specialised heavy lift skills needed for post-war Sri Lanka where such skills are in short supply. He added that the joint venture has access to skilled personnel and equipment in south Indian ports and can take only a few days to mobilise.

The company is also considering business opportunities in the Maldives where a tourism revival means more resorts are being built.

"Every island resort has its own harbour basin which means dredging, a pier, and transport of almost all supplies by air or sea," said Nanayakkara.

In Sri Lanka, while some major projects are under construction many more are in the pipeline with logistics contracts to ship the supplies required expected to be awarded in the first quarter of 2011.

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