Written by Staff Writer
30 Jun, 2019 | 9:14 pm
COLOMBO (News 1st): Petroleum Trade Unions threatened to suspend the supply of fuel to the Ceylon Electricity Board from midnight tonight (June 30). Trade Unions allege that Minister Ravi Karunanayake is obstructing the process of renovating the supply line from the Colombo Port to Kolonnawa.
The 05 kilometres long supply pipe network which carried fuel from the tankers docked at the Colombo Harbour to Kolonnawa are more than 75 years old. Leaks were reported on this network on a number of occasions and many pipes were abandoned completely due to prolonged corrosion leaving only two pipes for use.
Due to its present condition, the supply process that previously took only three days now needs around six days for fuel to reach Kolonnawa from the Port. This costs the state around US$ 4 Million annually in the form of delay charges imposed on tankers. Trade Unions claim it is extremely important to repair these pipes.
General Secretary of the Sri Lanka Nidahas Sewaka Sangamaya, Petroleum office, Jayantha Pareigama noted that it is only 140 m that needs to be added to the pipeline. He further said that on the 25th of this month that Minister Ravi Karunanayake and Mano Ganeshan had suddenly come and interrupted them and had stated that people living on both sides should be equally compensated.
The Secretary said that when they had begun to lay the pipes that a sum of Rs. 83 million was paid to over 20 families and stated that the people living on the other side dwell in illegal constructions. He further said that although they live illegally that Minister Kabir Hashim had put in a cabinet paper and got the approval for Rs. 1700 million to compensate the people.
He further clarified that there is however a conflict in options between the Finance Minister and Ravi Karunanayake since they do not have the confidence that the money allocated by the Finance Ministry would reach the people properly. Pareigama added that they should not be found fault with for a quarrel existing between the two people. He also explained that if this pipeline broke down that its damage will be far worse than the Meethotamulla garbage dump.
On a separate occasion, Minister Ravi Karunanayake said that the innocent people of Colombo North cannot be allowed to suffer for eleven years of incompetence displayed by the Petroleum Corporation. He further said that they do not care if the unions object to this because what is left is the money to pay from the Petroleum Corp since they have been struggling for 15 months.
Meanwhile, the General Secretary of the Petroleum office firmly says that they will completely stop providing the petrol to the CEB from midnight since the CEB is already in debt of Rs. 90 billion. To this, the Minister said that the issue is not a problem for them and that they will look after it because electricity is needed more than petrol.
He further said that if the Minister of Finance cannot give this money that there is no point in condemning another Ministry. Karunanayake continued to say that when they are asked to sell fuel at a lower price that they sell fuel worth Rs. 45 at a price of Rs. 95 while also saying that the electricity bill has increased so much because of the high fuel costs.
The General Secretary expresses suspicion that the Prime Minister and Minister Ravi Karunanayake are behind the act because after Kabir Hashim was sworn in again that there has been a rift between the PM and Hashim. He continued to say that Karunanayake is trying to withdraw a cabinet paper which was presented by the chairman of the UNP and was approved by the cabinet. He said that they have quite a big suspicion that the Prime Minister is behind this since Ravi K. had stated that he cannot remember what happened when he was questioned about the bond scam.
Meanwhile, Minister of Highways & Road Development and Petroleum Kabir Hashim said that the Prime Minister has intervened and that the issue will be solved within two days.
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