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Lanka gives top priority to sustenance of international maritime services

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Representatives of four leading bodies associated with seafaring assignments and maritime services in Lankan seas, Ceylon Association of Shipping Agents (CASA), Colombo Logistics, Avant Garde and Rakna Lanka (Pvt) Ltd during a high level meeting co-chaired by Secretary to Ministry of Foreign Relations, Admiral (Retd) Prof Jayanath Colambage and Head of the National Operation Centre for Prevention of COVID- 19 Outbreak, Chief of Defence Staff & Commander of the Army Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva on Monday (17) explored possibilities of continued sustenance of their maritime services, such as ship crew changes, security for floating ships against pirates, etc adhering to best health practices.

Discussions pointed out that the Sri Lanka Navy while playing an exemplary operational role hand in hand with those maritime organizations enormously helped evacuation of hundreds of ship crew members at sea, some of who remained affected with COVID-19 while on board their commercial vessels. The importance of continuing such practices for commercial purposes was highlighted during the proceedings.

Due to the pandemic, the entire industry faced a huge setback and lost a fair share of their profits. Co-chairs attentively gave ear to their grievances and confronting issues and assured the government’s backing for the initiative. Similarly, co-chairs highlighted the significance of preparing a strategic mechanism through which common concerns of those sear farers could be addressed or resolved and their professions well-guaranteed.

The Navy during the height of the epidemic set a record as the first such service provider in the whole of the South Asian region rendering an exemplary service for crewmen at sea, and facilitated stranded ship crew members in sailing ships to sign off or re-join onboard in the seas off Colombo as directed by respective authorities.

The attendees submitted their views and operational proposals for further discussion, review and decision-making during the cordial meeting.

Maj. Gen. Harendra Ranasinghe, Director General Operations Sri Lanka Army, Rear Admiral Y.N Jayarathna, Director General Operations Sri Lanka Navy, Mr H.S Hettiarachchi, Head of Airport Manager, Dr Samitha Ginige, Consultant Epidemiologist, Dr Roshan Sampath and those representatives of shipping agencies, including Mr Ashan Welagedara, Mr Ralph Anandappa, Mr Shano Sabar, Mr Iqram Cutilian from CASA, Major (Retd) Nishshanka Senadhipathi, Chairman, Commander (Retd) Nandana Diyabalanage, Brigadier (Retd) Nishantha Wadugodapitiya, Maj. Gen. (Retd) Rasika Karunathilake of Avant Garde and Mr Eric Ambarangoda, Maj. Gen.(Retd) Chargi Gallage of Colombo Logistics were associated with the day’s arrangement at the Commander’s office.

Brigadier Haren Peris, Brigadier Hirosha Wanigasekara, Director Supply and Transport, Brigadier Wandhitha Mahinkanda, Director Real Estate and Quartering, Colonel Saveen Semage, Deputy Director, Directorate of Army Preventive Medicine and Mental Health Army Headquarters, Brigadier Vipula Chandrasiri, Brigadier Coordination National Operation Centre for Prevention of COVID – 19 Outbreak (NOCPCO) were also at the venue.



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Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’

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By Norman Palihawadane and Ifham Nizam

The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested six suspects in the Sapugaskanda Rathgahawatta area with more than 100 kilos of Crystal Methamphetamine also known as Ice.

Police Media Spokesman, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ajith Rohana told the media that the PNB sleuths, acting on information elicited from a suspect in custody had found 91 packets of Ice.

A man in possession of 100 kilos of heroin was arrested in Modera during the weekend and revealed that a haul of Ice had been packed in plastic boxes.

The PNB seized more than 114 kilos of Ice from the possession of a single drug network.

According to the information elicited from the suspects, more than 100 kilos of Ice were found.

The PNB also arrested six persons including two women with 13 kilos of Ice, during an operation carried out in the Niwandama area in Ja-Ela on Sunday.

DIG Rohana said the ice had been packed in small plastic boxes and hidden in two school bags.

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PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners

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By Norman Palihawadane

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he was confident that differences among the constituents of the SLPP coalition as regards the May Day celebrations and the next Provincial Council elections could be ironed out soon.

Leaders of all SLPP allied parties have been invited to a special meeting to be held at Temple Trees with the PM presiding on April 19.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa said it was natural for members of a political alliance to have their own standpoints and views on matters of national importance. “This is due to the different political ideologies and identities. It is not something new when it comes to political alliances world over. In a way, it shows that there is internal democracy within our alliance.

The PM said: “As a result of that the allied parties may express their own views on issues, but that does not mean there is a threat to the unity of the alliance. An alliance is more vibrant and stronger not when all the parties think on the same lines but when the member parties have different ideologies.”

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Thilo Hoffman remembered

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A copy of the book “Politics of a Rainforest: Battles to save Sinharaja” was handed over to Dominik Furgler, the Swiss Ambassador in Sri Lanka by the author of the book, Dr. Prasanna Cooray at the Swiss Embassy in Colombo last Tuesday, to be sent to the family of the late Thilo Hoffman in Switzerland.

Hoffman, a Swiss national, who made Sri Lanka his second home for six decades, was a pioneering environmental activist who led the battles to save Sinharaja from the front in the early 1970s, abreast with the likes of Iranganie Serasinghe, Kamanie Vitharana, Lynn De Alwis and Nihal Fernando of the “Ruk Rekaganno” fame. That was the era when the trees of Sinharaja were felled for the production of plywood by the then government. Hoffman was also a livewire of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) for a long time. Hoffman died in 2014 at the age of 92.

The book includes a chapter on Thilo Hoffman.

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