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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2648

Navy’s Timely Action at Hambantota Reassured Confidence among International Shipping Community

By Ravin Edirisinghe

I myself being a seafarer few years back was shocked to see some hooligans holding two ships and crew at Hambantota harbour for days incurring heavy losses to the owners of the two ships.

I was relieved only when I heard the news that the vessel was leaving Hambantota port under close protection of the Navy. Well done Navy for that job.

Vessel M/V Hyperion Highway is among the world’s largest car carriers. She has a cargo capacity of 7,700 units and measured nearly 200 m in length. One should be fortunate to see vessels of this magnitude calling on at our ports. This ship made her maiden call on at Hambantota port January this year.

It is quite common in Sri Lanka to take political advantage of any incident and blame the others. Those who are behind motivating the protesters must understand that one should never drag the country to a level where others will look at us in doubt. What I saw during the yesterday’s debate at the Parliament was exactly that.

I do not challenge the right of our citizens to conduct protest campaigns. If any one feels that there is an issue and it should be heard at the highest level, they are most welcome to protest. But the protest should NOT endanger national security at any level. One cannot take national security for ransom and continue demanding their rights.

Peaceful protests, non violence demonstrations, and even fast on to death are few options among many others that one can easily resort into showing their protest.

But, no one has the right to take the crew of a ship as hostages and retain ships forcefully. No one should tolerate such acts as they give away a very bad picture about Sri Lankan ports and safety of ships arriving to Sri Lanka. Those who protested at Hambantota (those who motivated them to do this) may be not aware that, what the protesters did in very simple language is called an act of PIRACY.

The Navy even had the right to use maximum power in rescuing the crew and ship. I think many wanted to make it yet another ‘Rathu Passwala’, but the naval ratings acted very professionally and saved our day.

I was really happy to see the reply given by the State Minister of Defence at the Parliament yesterday when one MP asked how, why and who gave the authority call the Navy to handle the situation when the Emergency Law has been lifted. I think he let the cat out of the bag by asking that question. The State Defence Minister’s reply was spot on as he said that the situation prevailed does not require to ask from any one to task the Navy to respond. Yes, it is the Navy’s job and they did it in a very competent manner.

One should have asked the Police, STF or Army to get into action, but those who utter rubbish does not know that the Navy is vested with powers through the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code, popularly known as ISPS Code.

Even if the others are called in, they would have no idea of any of the port operations. The naval ratings restored power supply, which was sabotaged by the protectorates, they got tugs ready, cleared many barb wires and other obstacles, and paved way for the ship to sail safely.

It is sad to see that especially our local media not highlighting the true facts of the event giving due publicity.
Reports say the shipping company suffered nearly USD 400,000 for four days. Who is going to pay these damages? Unfortunately the public will have to pay it including those who took part in the protest campaign.

I am confident that authorities will address whatever the grievances raised by the protesters, IF there are any genuine concerns. As the Minister of Ports and Shipping very rightly said, the new company will think seriously whether they are going to recruit these thugs in the future.

And at the same time I urged the officials to take very serious action against those who engaged in an act of PIRACY.
Once again, well done Navy for that excellent piece of work. Your actions yesterday saved our shipping industry in a very big way and sent a very strong message to the International Shipping community.

- Asian Tribune -

Navy’s Timely Action at Hambantota Reassured Confidence among International Shipping Community
Navy’s Timely Action at Hambantota Reassured Confidence among International Shipping Community
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