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Japan helps enhance Sri Lanka Coast Guard’s capacity to handle oil spill control, recovery

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By Ifham Nizam

More than 80 Sri Lanka Coast Guard (SLCG) members are now competent enough to handle oil spill control, and recovery, thanks to training and patrol craft and equipment received from Japan.

The training programme was evaluated by a team from the Japanese Coast Guard (JCG) Mobile Cooperation team and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The delegation, headed by Senior Advisor of JICA – Japan Koji Tsuchiya, comprised three JCG and three JICA personnel evaluating the exercise.

The Sri Lanka Coast Guard (SLCG) last week concluded an offshore oil spill response exercise off the Colombo harbour with the participation of the JICA and MCT-JCG members and in collaboration with the Sri Lanka Navy.

SLCG Staff Officer Training Lt. Cmdr. A. M. A. S. Alahakoon told The Island that they had been given a special training to handle disastrous situations. He said that the exercise had been mainly focused on evaluating the knowledge and practical applications of oil spill response skills of the SLCG.

“We hope that the Japanese government and JCG will continue to provide assistance for promoting operational capabilities and capacities in any oil spill response the Sri Lanka Coast Guard undertakes in years to come,” he added.

During the training evaluation exercise, the SLCG has demonstrated its capacity to respond to an offshore oil spill.

JCG and JICA have extended advisory services for building oil spill response capabilities for SLCG since 2015 and the programme is executed under three phases.

The third phase will commence from 2022 to 2024 to establish an in-house advanced oil spill incident management training programme at Sri Lanka Coast Guard for disaster mitigation and marine environment protection.

Phase I commenced in February 2015 and terminated in 2017. It was mainly focused on developing the Basic Coastal Oil Spill Response Skills of the SLCG. This initial training phase was conducted at the Advanced Training Centre-Mirissa by a team of highly qualified JCG oil spill response instructors.

Phase II, which extended from 2019 to 2022, was dedicated to further developing co-competencies in response to the offshore oil spill response by the mobile platforms (ships). In particular, the SLCG has received two brand new Fast Patrol Vessels dedicated for oil spill response operations along with oil spill response equipment in the year 2018 under the project for maritime safety capability improvement.

Phase III is scheduled from 2022-2024 and is mainly intended to inculcate an in-house advanced training capacity system for Disaster Mitigation and Marine Environment Protection of the SLCG under the concept of institutionalisation.



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BASL urges President to de-escalate tensions in different parts of country

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The Bar Association of Sri Lanka has called upon President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to instruct the Defence Secretary, the Commanders of the Tri Forces and the Inspector General of Police to ensure that there is an immediate de-escalation of tensions in different parts of the country – especially at fuel stations – understanding the difficulties faced by the public.”

 “Whilst keeping in mind that the police and armed forces are acting under very trying circumstances, nevertheless it is necessary to give strict instructions to the police and the forces to desist from violence in dealing with the public and to act with utmost restraint”, the BASL has said in a media statement.

 “We also call upon you to ensure that steps are taken under the law to deal with errant officers who have subjected civilians to such violence.”

The BASL is of the view that it is not appropriate for service personnel to be deployed in the present manner in matters which essentially should be managed by the Sri Lanka Police.

 The armed forces should also not be used to disturb or hinder peaceful protests as was seen last week in Galle.

Full text of the BASL letter to the President:

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) expresses its gravest concerns at the current situation at fuel stations throughout the country and the reports of several incidents of conflicts between civilians and members of the police force and the armed forces at fuel stations. There has been video footage of civilians being assaulted by personnel of the armed forces and the police, the latest being of a civilian being kicked by an Army officer at a fuel station. There have also been situations of the police and Army opening fire into the air to contain the crowd.

Your Excellency is no doubt aware that thousands of desperate civilians are waiting in queues at hundreds of fuel stations in the country. The queues are kilometres long. The tension at the fuel stations have arisen from this desperation for which there is no immediate solution in sight.

The BASL wishes to warn Your Excellency of the imminent dangers this situation could give rise to. The present unrest could result in a conflagration between civilians and members of the armed forces or the police. Some years ago, confrontations between members of the public and the armed forces resulted in the deaths of civilians. Such incidents between the members of the armed forces or the police and the civilians will discredit Sri Lanka’s armed forces and the police.

We call upon Your Excellency to take all necessary steps to give instructions to the Defence Secretary, the Commanders of the Tri Forces and the Inspector General of Police to ensure that there is an immediate de-escalation of the situation in different parts of the country – especially at fuel stations – understanding the difficulties faced by public. Whilst keeping in mind that the police and armed forces are acting under very trying circumstances, nevertheless it is necessary to give strict instructions to the police and the forces to desist from violence in dealing with the public and to act with utmost restraint. We also call upon you to ensure that steps be taken under the law to deal with errant officers who have subjected civilians to such violence.

The Sri Lanka Army and other service personnel must be deployed only in very limited circumstances as contemplated in the Criminal Procedure Code. The BASL is of the view that it is not appropriate for service personnel to be deployed in the present manner in matters which essentially should be managed by the Sri Lanka Police. The Armed Forces should also not be used to disturb or hinder peaceful protests as was seen last week in Galle.

We trust that this will receive the immediate attention of the Government as to do otherwise may otherwise result in unprecedented turmoil and harm.

The BASL believes that the ultimate solution to the situation at fuel stations is to be transparent with the public and to ensure an equitable and effective system of fuel distribution throughout the country.

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SC orders AG to submit report on fuel purchases and distribution

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By A.J.A. Abeynayake

A three-member Supreme Court bench consisting of Justices Vijith Malalgoda, Mahinda Samayawardena and Arjuna Obeysekera yesterday ordered the Attorney General to submit a report on fuel purchases, the distribution thereof and the sectors to be provided with fuel on a priority basis.

The Supreme Court made the order after considering two fundamental rights petitions presented by the Bar Association of Sri Lanka.

The BASL has requested the Supreme Court to direct the Cabinet of Ministers to consult all stakeholders and independent experts to formulate and implement the necessary policies, and to provide concessions in relation to the prices of essential goods and services to the people including LP gas, fuel, electricity, milk powder, medicines and food.

The petitions were filed by the President of the BASL Saliya Pieris PC, Deputy President Anura Meddegoda PC, former Secretary Rajeev Amarasuriya, Treasurer Rajindh Perera and the Assistant Secretary Pasindu Silva.

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A/L may be delayed by one month

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Education Minister Sushil Premajayantha told Parliament yesterday that although it had been scheduled to hold the G.C.E. A/L Examination 2022 in November this year, it could be further delayed by another month.

Responding to a question by MP Shantha Bandara, the Minister said: “The examination should be held at least after three months of releasing the results of the previous A/L exam because the students who need to sit it again should have enough time to prepare,” the Minister said.

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