Written by Zulfick Farzan
29 Oct, 2021 | 1:45 pm
COLOMBO (News 1st); It is reported that the Hippo Spirit, the ship carrying Chinese Organic Fertilizer, did not return to China after the first samples were rejected by Sri Lanka.
Instead, the Hippo Spirit had sailed to Singapore and altered its course back to Sri Lanka, without returning to China.
On the 22nd of September, the Hippo Spirit ship carrying 20,000 metric tonnes of organic fertilizer left for Colombo from China’s Qingdao Port.
But the ship was diverted to Singapore after harmful bacteria was detected in the samples of this fertilizer shipment.
The Hippo Spirit ship that didn’t return to China had left Singapore declaring it would be heading to the Colombo Port.
But on the 14th of this month, the automatic identification system (AIS) used to track the ship had been deactivated at the Malakka Strait.
Vessel trackers showed the last position of the ship as the Malakka Strait before it went out of range.
Data available online showed the Hippo Spirit ship in Hambantota on the 24th of this month under the name Seiyo Explorer.
The Hippo Spirit and the Seiyo Explorer both share the same IMO number, and therefore it can be confirmed the Hippo Spirit is the Seioy Explorer.
The IMO Ship Identification Number is a unique seven-digit number that remains unchanged through a vessel’s lifetime and is linked to its hull, regardless of any changes of names, flags, or owners.
Although the ship was seen in Sri Lanka’s waters off the Hambantota District on the 24th of this month, the ship has gone out of range on tracking systems.
Sri Lankan officials suspect that the ship is in the international maritime zone off the country’s Southern Coast.
More serious concerns have been raised with regard to the Chinese Fertilizer Ship, as the local agent identified as Chelinaa Capital Corporation has questionable connections.
JVPs Dr. Nalinda Jayatissa said the Chairman of Chelinaa Capital Corporation Lolitha Abeysinghe is related to Prime Minister’s Secretary Gamini Senarath.
He said that Lolitha Abeysinghe’s Chelinaa Capital Private Limited had served as a consultant for Chinese projects that took place in the country before 2015.
“At that time, Lolitha Abeysinghe and his company had conducted about 15 projects worth 7 billion US dollars in this manner. It is alleged that Prime Minister’s Secretary Gamini Senarath had secured these Chinese projects,” he said.
However, Sri Lanka’s Agriculutre Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage told reporters on Thursday (28) that he was not aware of such relationship and that International Tenders were called for the supply of Organic Fertilizer.
“He might have some relationship but we aren’t responsible for that. International tenders were called. If a legal process has been followed, there’s no point in discussing it further,” said the Minister.
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