Friday, 03 July 2020 07:32

Colombo Port workers threaten to launch a strike over ECT development

Workers at the strategic Colombo Port on Thursday threatened to go on an indefinite strike to protest against the "Indian pressure" to prevent Sri Lanka from developing a deep-sea container terminal of the country's largest and

The announcement of the strike comes a day after Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa told reporters that no final decision had been made yet to hand over the development of the Eastern Container Terminal (ECT) to India.

This was a diplomatic agreement with India signed by the last government - an agreement between President Sirisena and Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi," he said.

The previous Sirisena government had signed a "memorandum of cooperation" (MOC) with India and Japan for a tripartite effort to develop the ECT which is located just next to the USD 500 million Chinese-run Colombo International Container Terminal (CICT).

Although the MOC was completed last year, a formal agreement for the terminal development is yet to be signed and the trade unions have been pressing the government to abandon the MOC and develop the terminal as a 100 per cent Sri Lankan venture.

During the previous government, the construction work of the East Terminal was proposed to be carried out as a joint project involving Japan, India, and Sri Lanka.

Against such a backdrop, the East Container Terminal is being developed to accommodate large ships.

The UNP faction of the Yahapalanaya government made continuous attempts to operate the East Container Terminal, as a joint venture between Sri Lanka, Japan, and India, despite India already has 13 major ports.

However, upon the intervention of then President Maithripala Sirisena, the National Economic Council on the 6th of June 2018, suspended this decision, and decided to develop this terminal as part of our country.

(LIN)

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