The development of the West Container Terminal (WCT) of Colombo Port should be carried out with a shipping company, not with the Indian Adani Group of Companies, say trade unions attached to the Colombo Port.
Adani may be suitable to the government for the development of the WCT but it is not suitable to the unions, Shamal Sumanaratne, General Secretary of Commerce Industries, and Progressive Workers’ Union told ‘The Morning’.
“According to us, a shipping company would be the best option to develop the WCT because India’s Adani Group is only a business empire,” claimed Sumanaratne, adding that shipping companies could help the port attract shipping lines. When asked whether they would embark on trade union action over Adani’s involvement, he noted that they are yet to decide.
He also claimed that the unions affiliated to the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP)—who oppose WCT being developed under Adani and have called for it to be developed through the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA)—use this issue only for political gains.
“Everyone knows that the WCT was not supposed to be developed under the SLPA because we have no capacity to do that. We are already in the process of developing the East Container Terminal (ECT) of the Colombo Port under the SLPA. We don’t have the money to develop the WCT. It should be given to a third party,” Sumanaratne added.
Responding to these claims, JVP Politburo Member K.D. Lal Kantha highlighted that even though the Party and Union associates are working towards a political agenda, they are not accepting the way in which the government works.
“We are in the political business, and we have our political objectives – it is stupid to say that we don’t. What we should discuss is the damage occurring from those political objectives,” said Lal Kantha. He further questioned the negatives of their objective if it concerns protecting national assets.
Meanwhile, Co-Cabinet Spokesman Udaya Gammanpila said that the Sri Lankan Government had assumed that the Indian Government had nominated the Adani Group to develop the WCT, as the same company had previously been nominated to develop the ECT.
The comments came after India’s Minister of External Affairs in New Delhi said that the claim that the Indian High Commission had approved Adani’s investment in the WCT was factually incorrect.
“The Indian Government nominated the Adani Group of Companies to invest in the ECT. Thereafter, the Sri Lankan Government took a policy decision to develop the ECT with the SLPA alone, and to develop the WCT as a joint venture between Sri Lanka, India, and Japan. By the time the Sri Lankan Government took that decision, the Indian Government had already nominated the Adani Group of Companies as their nominee for the development of the ECT,” said Gammanpila.
He added that the Sri Lankan Government assumed that it is the very same investment and that there would only be a change of the investment location.
“Therefore, the Sri Lankan Government assumed that this would continue as the Indian Government’s nominee. So, the Sri Lankan Government continued its dialogue with Adani,” said Gammanpila.
He added that the Indian Government has expressed that it was not going to officially get involved in these decisions about the joint venture, and therefore, Sri Lanka will continue its dialogue with the Adani Group of Companies with regard to the WCT.
(By arrangement with www.themorning.lk)