06th October 2009, www.lankabusinessonline.com
A Colombo port container terminal in which Sri Lanka's John Keells Holdings group has a majority stake said volumes rose to a record high in August 2009, the fourth straight monthly rise.
The August 2009 volumes at South Asia Gateway Terminals (SAGT) rose 5.1 percent to 163,024 TEUs (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units or containers) from a year ago, according to statistics released by the facility and analysts.
The record volume came despite an overall slump in cargo volumes at Colombo port this year because of the global economic downturn.
Stock market analysts said the August increase in volumes at South Asia Gateway Terminals, in which JKH has a 42.2 percent stake, surpassed the previous monthly record of 158,236 TEUs set in July 2009.
It was the fourth monthly percentage increase in container cargo at SAGT after five consecutive monthly declines, analysts said.
Despite the record throughout in August, SAGT box volumes so far this year were still down 2.1 percent to 1,139,506 TEUs compared with the same period in 2008.
SAGT's increasing volumes despite a downturn in container cargo in Colombo port as a whole indicates the private terminal has gained market share from the rival state-run Sri Lanka Ports Authority terminal.
However, the bulk of SAGT's business consists of relatively low-margin transhipment traffic which account for an increasing proportion of the terminal's total volumes, analysts said.
Colombo is south Asia's hub port, where cargo is shipped on feeder vessels to and from smaller ports in the Indian sub-continent on to mainline vessels plying the main East-West trade route.