A full-scale IT infrastructure drive is currently underway to transform Colombo — Sri Lanka’s busiest port — into a ‘smart port,’ Ports, Shipping and Southern Development Minister Sagala Ratnayaka has announced. “Transforming Colombo into a ‘smart port’s a timely need,” the Minister said, adding that LKR 929 million had been allocated for the project, which has been included in the Asian Development Bank-supported master plan for Sri Lanka’s port development. Ratnayaka said Colombo’s transformation into a smart port would ensure the development of a collaborative approach that would make the port smart in terms of flow, situation or customer management.
“This is a long-drawn process that will happen over time with rapidly advancing technology. But our smart port initiative will lay the groundwork for the longer-term transformation with the right IT and tech infrastructure.”
Under this project, the Minister said that Colombo Port’s IT and information systems would be upgraded to streamline terminal management and cargo systems. He expressed optimism that it would be completed within 12-18 months.
“There are many technical aspects to this. For instance, the upgraded Terminal Management System will include gate automation, yard automation, quay side automation, prime route DGPS, business intelligence tools, web portals and simulation tools. In layman’s terms, this means Colombo Port will operate with greater efficiency and handle a greater volume of activities within a shorter period of time with the use of advanced IT and information systems,” Ratnayaka explained.
“What we need to understand is that being smart is a mindset. Colombo must embrace the smart port concept with the right frame of mind. This is not about upgrading IT and information systems and forgetting everything else. Cleanliness of the port, the attitude of workers, and its administration and welfare should also be geared towards the same transformation,” he added.
He also thanked the management of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) and its Director of Information Systems Dr. Prasanna Lokuge for spearheading the project.