India joins firefighting effort off Colombo port
Explosions on board chemical carrying ship
The crew of container carrier X-Press Pearl yesterday (25) abandoned the vessel following several explosions. Authoritative sources said that those engaged in firefighting evacuated the 25-member crew. Two of them had suffered injuries, sources said, adding that the fire was raging out of control. The injured have been admitted to the National Hospital.
The fire erupted on May 19 nine nautical miles off the Colombo port. The vessel was carrying chemicals.
Sources said that in spite of two foreign firefighting tugs joining three local vessels, the situation couldn’t be brought under control hence the decision to call for Indian assistance.
The Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) admitted it lacked sufficient strength to tackle a fire onboard a ship. Sources said that following the explosion several containers fell into the sea and the chemicals could pose quite a threat to the coast from Colombo to Negombo and even beyond.
Meanwhile, the Indian High Commission said that India promptly responded to an emergency request by Sri Lanka Navy and deployed multiple assets to douse the fire on MV XPress Pearl off Colombo yesterday May 25. The Indian statement: “This includes Vessels Vaibhav, Vajra and Samudra Prehari by Indian Coast Guard and Tug Water Lilly by Director General, Shipping in addition to Dornier aircraft for aerial reconnaissance.
Assistance of Government of India for firefighting as well as pollution control was sought by Sri Lanka Navy at 1200 hrs on 25 May 2021. This came in the wake of an onboard explosion on 25 May 2021 on the Singapore-flagged MV X Press Pearl. Immediately upon receiving the request, relevant authorities in India were alerted and assets were deployed expeditiously. While the Dornier aircraft reached Colombo at around 1600 hrs on 25 May 2021, the first Vessel would reach around 1900 hrs.
India has the tradition of being the first responder during crises in Sri Lanka. It may be recalled that a potentially huge oil spill was averted with assistance from India after MT New Diamond with 200,000 metric tonnes of crude oil on board caught fire off Sri Lanka’s Eastern Coast in September 2020. Similarly three Indian Naval Ships rushed with assistance following the floods in Sri Lanka in May 2017.”
SF claims thousands of police and military personnel leaving
By Saman Indrajith
Thousands of police and military personnel had left the services recently as they did not want to carry out illegal orders, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka told Parliament yesterday. According to the war-winning army commander 200 policemen have resigned during the past two months and 25,000 soldiers have left the army during the last two years.
“We urged the law enforcement and military officials not to follow illegal orders. We will reinstate them with back pay,” he said.
Fonseka also urged the President and the government MPs not to take people for fools.
“Sri Lanka owes 55 billion dollars to the world. Ranil’s plan is to borrow another seven billion during the next four years. So, in four years we will owe 62 billion to the world.
Ranil and his ministers ask us what the alternative to borrowing is. These are the people who destroyed the economy and society. They must leave. Then, we will find an alternative and develop the country,” he said, adding that the IMF loans had made crises in other nations worse.
“Ranil says that by 2025, we will have a budget surplus as in Japan, Germany and South Korea. These countries are economic power houses, and this comparison is ludicrous.”
CEB hit by exodus of technical staff
By Shiran Ranasinghe
At least five technical personnel of the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) resigned daily for overseas employment, a senior CEB official said.They included electrical engineers, electricians and foremen, he added.
“Most of them are quitting due to the economic crisis while others are simply disillusioned. Trained and experienced technical staff are in high demand in many countries,” he said.
CEB United Trade Union Alliance President Ranjan Jayalal said that the CEB had lost about 2,000 employees in recent times due to the above reasons.
“We had about 24,000 such personnel a few months ago. Now the number has come down to 22,000. A number of people had to retire on 31 December, 2022.
Sajith questions sudden decision to charge Rs. 225,000 from students following NDES
By Saman Indrajith
The government had decided to charge Rs 225,000 from those enrolling at the Institute of Engineering Technology, Katunayake under the National Apprentice and Industrial Training Authority (NAITA), Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa said yesterday in Parliament.
Premadasa said that the institute awards the National Diploma in Engineering Sciences (NDES) and no fee was charged from students until 2023.The IET awards the National Diploma in Engineering Sciences under the three major fields of civil, electrical and mechanical engineering, and eight sub-fields.
“This is an institute that has created over ten thousand tier two engineers. NDES is a four year programme,” he said.
The opposition leader said that the sudden decision to charge 225,000 rupees from students at a time when the average Sri Lankan family is facing significant economic challenges is unfair.
“This institute offered free tuition. We should continue this tradition. A large number of engineers are leaving the country and we need to ensure that we have a continuous supply of engineers to ensure we can maintain our essential technical services,” he said.
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