Written by Staff Writer
16 Feb, 2020 | 9:08 pm
COLOMBO (News 1st):- While there is a foreign intervention with regard to Lt. General Shavendra Silva, there are discussions of another possible foreign intervention. This is with regard to the Eastern Container Terminal of the Colombo Port.
The Ceylon Today newspaper, quoting a government official reported that Sri Lanka, Japan, and India have decided to collectively develop the East Container Terminal at the Colombo Port as their previously signed agreement.
The Trade Unions attached to the Sri Lanka Port convened a press briefing regarding this.
Chairman of the SLNSS (Port), Prasanna Kalutharage speaking on the matter said,
“Do not let them privatize the Eastern Container Terminal. If the Sri Lanka Ports Authority loses this and the income this generates then the JCT will be affected. The JCT earns 75% of the income of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority. We ask the officials of the Indian Embassy and the Japanese Embassy to give up the idea of acquiring the Eastern Container Terminal. If not we, as the trade unions will surround your respective embassies in protest.”
On the 06th of June 2019, when information regarding the project came to light, News 1st continuously reported on the importance of the Eastern Container Terminal, encouraged public debate and urged the stakeholders to lay the facts before the people. The ECT is an important location in the Indian ocean maritime route.
This is also the deepest terminal at the port. The SLPA has completed a 440m single berth as the first phase of the ECT development plan to cater to the shortfall in the capacity of container handling in the port of Colombo. The cabinet paper in this regard was presented on the 28th of May 2019.
On the 4th of June last year, Leader of the JVP, Anura Kumara Dissanayake had said;
“When Arjuna Ranatunga was the subject minister, there was a cabinet paper to hold the ECT with the SLPA and carry out activities in a way that would benefit the economy. The cabinet rejected it. When the cabinet is trying to hand this over to India and Japan, everyone is raising their hands.”
On the 27th of May 2019, the Sri Lanka Ports Authority elaborated on the Memorandum of Cooperation. As per the suggested shareholding, the Sri Lanka Ports Authority was to hold 51% while, 49% was to be held by India and Japan.
Convenor of the Voice Against Corruption, Wasantha Samarasinghe also commented on the issue and said;
“This has been constructed, all that is left is to bring down the gantries and commence the operations. What is Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Mahinda Rajapaksa who came to power claiming that the operations will commence, doing and saying now? They have gone to India and said continue the activities as per the agreement that you reached with Ranil Wickremesinghe. This is the only terminal that belongs to us. This is probably the only terminal at the port that the SLPA will be able to earn profits in the future. They are now planning to give this away. Is this why you received the mandate. Is this why you are asking for a majority?”
Chandrasiri Mahagamage, General Secretary All Ceylon Port General Workers’ Union filed a fundamental rights petition regarding the MoC, on the 28th of June 2019. The case is to be taken up on the 11th of March this year.
The General Secretary All Ceylon Port General Workers’ Union, Chandrasiri Mahagamage said;
“We spoke about this with the new officials. The chairman said there will be action taken regarding the ECT. They should provide a responsible statement as to this is how this will be done. We will continue the legal procedures that have been initiated in this regard.”
News 1st made an inquiry from the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority General Daya Ratnayake regarding this. He noted that there has been no final decision regarding this as of yet.
State Minister of Public Management and Accounting, Lasantha Alagiyawanna was questioned by a journalist on the matter.
Journalist: There was an allegation from the general public that the local assets are being sold. There is a new government now. They are saying that there are attempts to give away the East Container Terminal.
To which he responded saying, “that will not happen in the alliance that is led by the SLFP and the SLPP. I can state with responsibility. These are attempts to discourage progress. We will not let such things happen.”
News 1st continuously reported on Sri Lanka losing the grip on economically strategic locations in the country. Will the Eastern Container Terminal also face the same fate as the Hambantota Port, the Palali Airport, the land adjacent to the Shangri La Hotel at Galle Face?
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