Monday, October 21, 2013

Priyath Wickrema is fouling the air with lies that the Island Newspaper continues to parrot!

When the Chairman of the SLPA makes a statement that the (only two births) at the Hamabantota Harbor are in use, and that ships are waiting in line for bunkering he is just making a statement and doing his job he is paid to do as a faithful servant. It is time the Island and the journalist doing the interview understands that and that it hides a myriad of ills.

For the good doctor (Priyath has PhD) to say then that the second phase is required as there is no room for ships is a purely contrived statement to justify the position he has taken on behalf of his benefactors, and one must look deeper into what all the fuss was about the Port.

Despite his confident assertion that it is not, I still state the port as is, is a “White Elephant”

The reason there are ships at all is that it is the cheapest port to stop over in just as the Mattala airport is as well. This is because vessels are permitted to come at little cost, as it is subsidized by the Govt. or SLPA, just to attract more ships.

Secondly the Govt. has forced all car carrying vessels to dock at Hambantota, and that is adding Rs100,000 to the cost of importing a car, when the expanded Colombo Port has the capacity to bring them in. The heavy cost in fuel use to get car carriers to bring them to Colombo, is further congesting the roads, and destroying them as they have not been built to withstand the weight of the juggernauts that ply this route.

Thirdly the low charges and incentives have permitted car manufactures to plant their vehicles at the port, and use feeder ships to send them to different destinations in Asia and the Middle East. However what the SLPA earns from allowing them thousands of acres of tarmac to park these bonded vehicles is peanuts and could be used more productively. Any idiot will plant his cars when he is not charged for it!

There are insufficient competent drivers to move these vehicles creating more chaos and delays for the birthed ships, and could be turned around quicker if there were more efficient drivers to move the cars as there are in other countries. I wonder if the Chairman of the SLPA realizes that there is congestion only because it is due to lower and subsidized rates at loss making prices and not anything else.
It must be remembered that in the grand development plan of Sri Lanka, the UNP has a port development in Hambantota at a better location and not at the head of the rock that needs blasting, and more importantly a deep water port out to sea, and not by taking land and carving out a port from it. It must be further remembered that expansion of the Port when it is in the water is easier as one is not restricted in space, and can be performed more practically.

No one is denying the strategic location of the Port. However taking loans from China at exorbitant rates of interest and getting them to build this port was not the answer.  It could have been built at a fraction of the money already wasted on a BOT basis, where there will be little need for Govt. financing were it auctioned internationally to the highest bidder. They would then build the most economically practical design. Remember this is with NO COST to GOSL.

So when I see such asinine comments made by supposedly responsible officials to justify their sycophantic existence it makes by blood curdle, as it is simply the citizens of Sri Lanka who have been taken for a ride. It is not the Doctor who has the additional debt burden, it is every citizen of Sri Lanka who is that much poorer because of the choices made by people who rule over them.

I do not need to go into the Indian Sugar refinery project that has got the go ahead in the FTZ adjoining the port as there will be no future for the existing refineries if this large refinery requires the raw material from locally grown sugar cane. So the estimated jobs in this industry will be miniscule as this refinery will be run with hardly any labor unlike the 5 proposed and already working ones of Pelawatte, Sevenagala, Himburana, Kantale and Gal Oya.

The building of the port was by Chinese labor, and no one has been employed locally from it, another blunder! The Chinese just killed and ate anything they could lay their hands on denigrating the wildlife of the area for ever. Ask the locals they supplied the game meat, although it was illegal so to do. The Govt. turned a blind eye to their indiscretions, when a local would be have been jailed for a simple kill of even a porcupine or thalagoya (land monitor).

I recommend the Island to their own research and find out the reasons for the congestion, like I pointed to, and find out the details of the ships what cargo they brought, why they used Hambantota and if SL is really making any money from this port of call before justifying precious MONEY, OR HIGH INTEREST LOANS to build the proverbial casket of GOLD ON THE WHITE ELEPHANT.  

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