Cargo handling operations in Colombo Port which handles nearly 75 percent
of Indian cargo especially imports was seriously affected as substantial number
of wharf clerks absented from work due to curfew restrictions imposed by the
island government to control the spread of coronavirus.
A senior official at the Customs
that the turnout of wharf clerks to duties with the lifting of the
quarantine curfew in the Western Province was very poor and as a result the
clearance of import cargo had been significantly affected on November nineth
according to Sri Lankan media reports.
From over 400,000
wharf clerks in the country about 75 per cent had not reported to work
Additional Director General of Customs and its Spokesperson Sunil Jayaratne
said from over 400,000 wharf clerks in the country about 75 per cent had not
reported to work as they were not being allowed to come out of the new isolated
areas in 25 police areas in Colombo, Gampaha and Kalutara districts and about
12 police areas in Colombo City itself.
“In Sri Lankan Ports including Colombo 1,200 import containers are cleared
on a regular day and up to 2,500 containers are cleared on a day in the year
end festive period usually starting from the month of November. But less than
1,000 containers had been cleared from the port on November 9th,” he said.
On a regular day usually 500 to 600 containers are exported from the
Colombo port but only 210 containers had been sent yesterday, whereas 545
containers had been exported on Sunday.
The official said that although the quarantine curfew was in place for the
entire Western Province during the last ten days, the turnout of the wharf
clerks was as usual as they had the opportunity to report to work on their
personal vehicle or motorcycle producing identification of performing essential
set of isolated areas was announced to remain in place indefinitely since
Monday (09) and wharf clerks failed to report for work
However, when a new set of isolated areas was announced to remain in place
indefinitely since Monday (09), most of the wharf clerks had failed to report
for duty yesterday, the official said.
Nevertheless, priority had been given to the clearance of cargo pertaining
to the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka and other imported material. Essential food commodities like onion,
potatoes, sugar with garments, cosmetics, etc. top a main portion of the
country’s daily imports, whereas ready-made garments, tea, spices and
specialised local food for Sri Lankan expats living abroad are the main