OREANDA-NEWS. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has signed a loan to improve Sri Lanka’s shipyard industry, increase the country’s competitiveness, and spur greater regional cooperation.

The $4 million loan to Walkers Colombo Shipyard (WCS), whose parent company Walkers Shipyards Limited is a subsidiary of MTD Walkers PLC, will finance the country’s first shiplift and transfer system. ADB’s participation will further strengthen the project’s environmental and social standards, as well as improve corporate governance of Sri Lanka’s ship repair industry.

The agreement was signed by Christopher Thieme, ADB’s Deputy Director General for Private Sector Operations, and Jehan Amaratunga, Group Executive Deputy Chairman of MTD Walkers PLC, in Colombo.

“Sri Lanka’s potential as a trade hub for shipping and maritime activities for South Asia is significant given the country’s strategic location in the Indian Ocean,” said Mr. Thieme. “Rehabilitating and improving the country’s ship repair infrastructure and maritime industries is essential to spur rapid growth and development in the country.”

“We have driven the diversification strategy of the Group over the past few years and this is one of the many initiatives underway that has come to fruition,” said Mr. Amaratunga. “We are keen to invest further in the marine engineering sector and enhance our United States dollar income streams. We could have no better demonstration of the potential of the project and sector than having ADB support us. In the long term, interest shown by the government to make Sri Lanka a maritime hub would only encourage more traffic to the region, more business, and higher volumes of repairs.”

The ADB loan to WCS will finance the development of a shipyard in Colombo, and facilitate onshore repairs and dry-docking of tugs, yachts, fishing vessels, small tankers, and general cargo carriers. The construction of the Colombo shipyard, earmarked for the development of the ship repair facility, is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2018.