Spike in Covid-19 cases: SJB blames SLPP for giving false sense of security
by Shamindra Ferdinando
The Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) yesterday (3) said that the government owed an explanation regarding the Covid-19 explosion now threatening the entire country after repeatedly assuring that the epidemic was under control.
SJB Colombo District lawmaker Mujibur Rahman alleged that the government strategy gave a false sense of security to the public thereby resulting in automatic lowering of the guard. MP Rahman said that those who spoke on behalf of the government played politics with the pandemic.
They created an environment conducive for the people to go on pilgrimages to Kataragama and on holiday to Nuwara
Eliya during Sinhala and Tamil New Year, the MP pointed out. The live television coverage of various events organized with the participation of artistes, models et al and avurudu beauty pageants deceived the people, the MP said.
The shocking revelation that the government allowed visitors from India in spite of the pandemic there being out of control proved those in power here threw caution to the wind, the former UNP lawmaker said.
Responding to another query, lawmaker Rahman questioned the rationale in the SLN stepping up surveillance at the Indo-Lanka Maritime boundary to prevent illegal immigrants while Indians were allowed in through the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA). MP Rahman emphasized that he didn’t have an issue with Indians or people of any other nationality. But, the country was in such a precarious situation, the government couldn’t take things lightly, MP Rahman said.
In the run-up to the Sinhala and Tamil New Year, the government conveniently reported a far lower number of Covid-19 cases, MP Rahman said, adding that according to statements attributed to officials the situation continued to improve. Against the backdrop of threat posed by a new variant of Covid-19, the government on Feb 14 ruled out a lockdown, MP Rahman said. One-time Speaker W.J.M. Lokubandara succumbed to Covid-19 at the IDH on the same day, the SJB spokesman said, adding that the total number of Covid-19 cases was placed at 801 on Feb 14. Lokubandara’s death was among 7 reported on that day, the MP said. Within the next few weeks the situation remained the same though closer to Sinhala and Tamil New Year reported cases dropped as a result of reducing the number of tests conducted, MP Rahman said.
Rahman said that the government reported 197 Covid-19 cases on April 1, 183 on April 2, 135 on April 3, 122 on April 4, 137 on April 5, 158 on April 6, 190 on April 7, 309 on April 8, 183 on April 9, 268 on April 10, 225 on April 11, 225 on April 12, 185 on April 13, 99 on April 14, 167 on April 15 and 159 on April 16.
The MP said that the government allowed more foreigners in though Chief Epidemiologist Sudath Samaraweera on April17 said that due to an alarming increase in the number of Covid-19 cases among those coming from abroad restrictions were necessary. The SJB spokesman asked whether the government heeded Dr. Samaraweera’s warning. On the day, the Chief Epidemiologist issued the warning, the government reported 204 fresh Covid-19 cases.
The government was so reckless in its Covid-19 strategy, declaration was made about the re-opening of schools in the Western Province as well as the Universities, the MP. However, at the same time the government exploited the deteriorating situation to cancel May Day rallies primarily because the SLPP led coalition was sharply divided over a range of contentious matters, MP Rahman said.
MP Rahman alleged that SLPP members largely depend on rhetoric to skip ongoing debate on deterioration of Covid-19 situation. Referring to a recent media briefing given by the Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC) and statement issued by Dr. Naveen Zoysa on behalf of the GMOA, MP Rahman said that the country faced an immense challenge.
Who allowed interested parties to offer quarantine facilities to foreigners when Sri Lankans were arrested for not wearing face masks? MP Rahman asked.
Rahman urged the government to reveal the outcome of second Covid-19 outbreak in late last year. No less a person than Attorney General Dappula de Livera PC, called for a probe on what he called ‘Brandix Cluster,’ the MP recalled. “Let there be an explanation soon on the part of the government,” Rahman said, urging the SLPP to take tangible measures to tackle the situation. MP Rahman said that the second Covid-19 eruption was also discussed in parliament. At one point, an attempt was made to fault Ukrainians over the epidemic eruption, the MP said.
Prez to unveil plan on 13 A
SJB, SLPP rebels to boycott opening of new parliamentary session
By Saman Indrajith
The main Opposition party, the SJB, and the dissident SLPP MPs have decided to boycott the ceremonial opening of the Fourth session of the Ninth Parliament by President Ranil Wickremessinghe today.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe declared, on January 26, that he would brief Parliament on his decision to implement the 13th Amendment to the Constitution fully.
MP Prof G.L. Peiris told the media that the FPC would boycott President Wickremesinghe’s speech, scheduled to take place today (08) when the Fourth session of the Parliament is ceremonially declared open.
Prof Peiris called the ceremonial opening of the new parliamentary session a mere show. “This is not acceptable. The people are fed up with policy statements. They need solutions instead,” he said.
Chief Opposition Whip and SJB Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella, addressing a press conference, at the Opposition Leader’s office in Colombo yesterday said that his party members too would boycott today’s ceremony.
Kiriella said that President Wickremesinghe was now speaking of economic development in 2048. “This he is promising to do while doing everything possible under the sun and the moon to deprive people of their democratic right to an election. Therefore, we have decided not to attend President’s ceremonial treading of the government policy statement which is another example of this makeshift government’s predilection for waste of money and time.”
All Ceylon Tamil Congress, led by Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam, too, has decided to boycott today’s sessions.
TNA spokesman, Jaffna District MP MA Sumanthiran, said that his party would attend Parliament sessions today.
Political party sources said that TNA, JVP, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress and All Ceylon Makkal Congress, in the Opposition ranks, however, would attend Parliament today.
Following the ceremonial opening of the day’s session, the President is scheduled to present the Statement of Government Policy in Parliament, at 10 am, according to the powers vested in him, under Article 33 of the Constitution.
A rehearsal for the ceremonial opening was held Monday at the Parliament premises where many, including students of Presidents’ Girls College, Kotte, were present.
MSC America belonging to largest shipping line calls at ECT
MSC America, the first container vessel under the business promotions programme to attract new lines to the Port of Colombo (POC), called at the East Container Terminal (ECT), owned by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority yesterday (07).
The latest programme to attract new shipping lines to the POC has been planned and implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Ports and Shipping, Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA), Colombo International Container Terminals (CICT), South Asia Gateway Terminals (SAGT), Ceylon Association of Shipping Agents (CASA) and Sri Lanka Association of Vessel Owners (SLAVO) to effectively address strategic business promotions as a fruitful mean to overcome the prevailing economic crisis. Attracting more new lines to the POC, increasing operational efficiency, expediting naval services, efficiency in logistics and warehouse management and container and cargo transportation are among the objectives.
MSC America that called at the ECT, owned by the POC, will hereafter operate a weekly call to Colombo.
On the first call, yesterday, the vessel carried 2300TEUs to Colombo and is expected to carry 2500TEUs on a weekly basis. The vessel, with a length of 334m and a 7.5m draft, sails under the flag of Panama. The port rotation includes Singapore and South Africa.
MSC is the largest global shipping line, with a fleet of more than 775 TEU vessels for container transportation around the world. The shipping line that maintains long term operations with the POC has a collaborative business relationship of more than 10 years with SLPA. Since 2015, it is the prime shipping line of the POC with an annual operational capacity of 2.0m TEUs. It performs about 900 calls per annum at the POC.
The deep draft vessels, owned by MSC, call at the CICT of the POC, whilst calling the SLPA controlled JCT and ECT with more than 1.0m TEUS per annum, becoming the main customer of the SLPA.
According to MSC Lanka (Pvt.) Ltd., the local agents for MSC shipping lines, another new three shipping lines, under INGWE West Bound service, East Africa Express service and East Med Service, will be calling this month at the POC.
To mark MSC America’s first call at the POC, a special plaque exchange was held at the ECT of the SLPA between Minister of Ports, Shipping and Aviation Nimal Siripala de Silva, and the Master of the vessel, Capt. Matlin Alexander. Chairman of SLPA, Keith D Bernard, and several representatives of MSC Lanka (Pvt.) Ltd., also attended the occasion.
Expressing views at the occasion Minister de Silva said:
“With the deep draft of the East Container Terminal, there is ample potential for mega vessels to call at the port. The remaining development process of the terminal is expedited with an investment of Rs.5.9 billion. Today, a mega vessel of the MSC has contributed for container operations via the Port of Colombo. Similarly four new services will be added to increase the capacity of the POC. That will increase our revenue. This has further strengthened the credibility placed by the international shipping community on the Port of Colombo.”
Remembering Upali Wijewardene, the founder of Upali Group
The Upali Group of Companies, its employees, and sales agents countrywide, have made arrangements to invoke blessings on its founder, Upali Wijewardene, who disappeared in his Learjet, 40 years ago. Bodhi Pooja, Pahan Pooja and an alms-giving will be held, in his memory, on Feb. 13 (Monday).
A special Bodhi Pooja will be held at the Kelani Raja Maha Viharaya, at 6 p.m. on February 13 with the blessings of Prof. Ven. Kollupitiye Mahinda Sangarakkhitha Thera, the Chief Incumbent of Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya.
Arrangements have been made to offer alms to the Maha Sangha at the Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya, and scholarships to 10 needy children, from the Helena Wijewardene Maha Vidyalaya, Kelaniya.
Alms-giving to the inmates of the Home for the Elders at Mulgampola, Kandy, Bodhi Pooja Pinkama and Kavi Bana Pinkama, from 4.30 p.m. onwards, at the Ceylon Chocolates factory premises.
Bodhipooja, Pahan Pooja and Kavibana deshana will be held at Vidya Niketha Piriven Viharaya, Sapugoda Kamburupitiya.
The employees of Upali Consumer Products have arranged an alms-giving lunch at the ‘Children’s Home’ at Ja-Ela.
Founder’s Day Programme on February 13, 2023.
9.00 a.m. – Holy Mass at Mattakkuliya Church.
10.00 a.m. – Offering of Buddhapooja at the ‘Dhathumandiriya’.
10.30 a.m. – Scholarships to 10 needy children from Helena Wijewardene Maha Vidyalaya, Kelaniya.
11.30 a.m. – Alms-giving for the Maha Sangha at Kelaniya Rajamaha Viharaya.
12 noon – Providing lunch for the Children’s Home, Ja-Ela, organized by the employees of Upali Trading Co. Ltd.
5.15 p.m. – Offering Gilanpasapooja (permissible drinks) for Dhathumandiraya.
6.00 p.m. – Bodhi Pooja and Pahan Pooja at Kelaniya Rajamaha Viharaya.
All these pinkamas (meritorious acts) are organized by Upali Group employees and newspaper, Kandos/Delta and soap agents.
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