Written by Charitha Fernando
14 Dec, 2016 | 6:21 pm
Minister of Ports and Shipping Arjuna Ranatunga told reporters Wednesday that some shipping lines have named the Hambantota port as a “risk plus” port following the seizure of a foreign merchant vessel by protesting dock workers.
Protesting dock workers seized Japanese vessel Hyperion Highway and prevented it leaving the harbour for four days. Media reports said the shipping line lost $ 100,000 a day because it was unable to leave the port on schedule to its next destination, Oman.
“Lot of people don’t understand the gravity of forcibly detaining a ship. The world looks at this in a different perspective. This has led to the port of Hambantota being named as a “risk” port by last evening,” said Minister Ranatunga.
“There are two, three shipping lines who have indicated so. But we have spoken to them to try and sort out the matter. By next week can tell you if some would pull out,” he further said.
Ranatunga who stopped short of naming the shipping lines said the government has been in talks with them to continue Roll on, Roll off operations at Hambantota as planned.
“We have already spoken to a couple of shipping lines and we are ready to take over and go ahead and do the business. We serviced one vessel by noon today. Another was diverted to Colombo. We have decided to service the vessels arriving tomorrow in Hambantota” he further said.
Commenting on the ongoing strike by temporary port workers, Minister Ranatunga said those who fail to report to work by at 2 p.m. tomorrow will be considered as those who have abandoned their posts.
“We will also take legal action against those who have acted illegally. We are yet to assess the damage caused to port property,” said Minister Ranatunga.
Temporary workers at Hambantota port have been striking since Tuesday demanding that the Sri Lanka Ports Authority to take them on as permanent employees.
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