President unfazed by Anti-India protests at Colombo Port; Protesters barred from occupying buildings

President unfazed by Anti-India protests at Colombo Port; Protesters barred from occupying buildings

President unfazed by Anti-India protests at Colombo Port; Protesters barred from occupying buildings

Written by Zulfick Farzan

01 Aug, 2020 | 8:10 pm

Colombo (News 1st); Port workers at the Colombo Harbour have decided to go ahead with their protest against attempts to lease the East Container Terminal to India.

Trade Unions at the Colombo Harbour demand the ECT be taken over and developed by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority and demand a pledge from authorities in writing with regard to the fate of the East Container Terminal before the August 05th Parliamentary Elections.

Saturday (01) afternoon talks between the protesting workers and the Sri Lanka Ports Authority over the matter failed while, the protests have gained wide ranging support from the clergy including members from the National Bhikku Front, Venerable Galagodatte Gnanasara Thero, Venerable Pahiyangala Ananda Sagara Thero, Venerable Ulapane Sumangala Thero and various other movements.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa however remains unfazed and in Badulla on Saturday said a certain group is attempting to create an issue at the Colombo Port with no valid remains and stressed such acts cannot intimidate him.

President Rajapaksa who was elected to office late last year, said whenever a leader who thinks about the country is voted in to power, his or her programs become the target of various extremist elements and conspirators.

“I will not allow anyone to reverse the program which moving forward to eradicate poverty from this country,” said Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Several hours later, court issued an order preventing protesters from obstructing the Bloemendhal Port Access Road & adjacent roads.

Further, the court order obtained by Sri Lanka prevents the protesters from entering and occupying any government structure inside the Colombo Harbour premises.

Despite a court order in effect, port workers are continuing their satyagraha campaing against the attempt to lease the East Container Terminal to India.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on the 03rd of July appointed a five-member Committee to examine and report on the concerns regarding the development of Jaya Container Terminal (JCT) and East Container Terminal (ECT) of the Colombo Port.

The Committee is headed by Secretary to the Ministry of Ports and Shipping, M.M.P.K. Mayadunne. Secretary to the Ministry of Industrial Export  and Investment Promotion, M.P.D.U.K. Mapa Pathirana, Secretary to the Ministry of Roads and Highways, R.W.R. Pemasiri, Secretary to the Ministry of Power and Energy, Wasantha Perera, Chairman  of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority, Gen. (Retd) R.M. Daya Rathnayake were the other members of the Committee.

 The Committee is required to look into the following.

  1. Procurement procedure and related concerns with regard to the development of JCT(V)
  2. Assessment of the compliance to the Cabinet Decision and the observation of the Minister of Finance connected with the Cabinet Decision dated 26th July 2017 on Enhancing deep berth capacity and modernization of Jaya Container Terminal (JCT) of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority.
  3. Examine as to why JCT (V) was not developed prior to ordering of required machinery.
  4. Examine the cost implication of the unsolicited procurement actions and shipment of them prior to the building of the terminal.
  5. Agreements entered by the Government of Sri Lanka with other Governments with regard to Colombo Port and in particular ECT.
  6. Financial implications and cost – benefit analysis of ad-hoc decisions taken by Sri Lanka Ports Authority, Line Ministry and the Government with regard to 1, 2 and 3 above.
  7. Identify those who are responsible for the above and recommend actions against them.
  8. Recommend the way forward to develop the above mentioned two terminals to get the maximum benefits for Sri Lanka for the development in Trade, Shipping and both in domestic and foreign investments.

The Committee is requested to consult relevant line ministries, stakeholders and submit their report within 45 days from 03rd July.

While there has been some consternation’s about the three gantry cranes and whether they should be placed at the Jaya Container Terminal or the Eastern Terminal of the Colombo Port, the bigger cry has also been about not giving the projects to foreign nations.

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