Sham Openings

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By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema

The Pradeepa II

The hype surrounding the “opening” of the Hambantota Port this week will be the second “opening” of the port after it was formally declared open in August this year by President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The Hambantota Port is to endure a second ceremonial opening on Thursday (18) by President Rajapaksa amidst more pomp and pageantry.  The coup de grace being only three local vessels entering the Port at the auspicious time.
The opening of the Norochcholai coal power plant on Wednesday (17) is being enacted despite the plant being not yet ready and geared to open only in January next year.
The sham openings are all part of government propaganda to boost President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s image as he takes oaths for a second term in office.
The first shipment of coal for the Norochcholai plant is expected  to arrive in the country only by January 2011 in time for the power generation process.
Therefore, diesel will be used to fire the boilers on Wednesday, the 17th by President Rajapaksa. A separate official opening of the power plant will take place again in January next year when the plant commences its actual power generation using coal.
Power and Energy Minister Champika Ranawaka confirmed to The Sunday Leader that the commissioning of the plant and the power generation process would commence only in January next year.
His explanation for using diesel to fire the boilers was that they need to be heated for about six weeks before coal is fed into them.
Meanwhile, the vessels that are to call at the Hambantota Port on Thursday, the 18th are Pradeepa II, Seruvila and Ruhunu Pura.
The Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) has spent close to Rs. 10 million to convert an old, abandoned tug boat into a replica of an ancient Sri Lankan sailboat and has named it Pradeepa II for the occasion.
Constructed in the shape of a peacock and completed with sails and oars, Pradeepa II was completed at a yard at the Colombo Port.
An official from the Colombo Port told The Sunday Leader that the SLPA has spent millions of rupees to convert a boat into a ship for the Hambantota Port opening on failing to get any foreign vessels to call at the Port on the 18th.
“The SLPA has spent over Rs. 20 million on workers’ services for the opening of the Hambantota Port ” he said.
Now resembling an ancient vessel the former tug boat renamed Pradeepa II left the Colombo Port on Friday (12) for Hambantota.
The Seruvila vessel is to enter the Port with a Buddha Statue while Ruhuna Pura is to carry a load of cargo to be unloaded. Ruhunu Pura is a vessel belonging to Master Divers (Pvt) Limited owned by Ariyaseela Wickremanayake.
When contacted by The Sunday Leader, Master Divers (Pvt) Limited confirmed that the company’s cargo vessel, Ruhunu Pura, will be transporting goods to the Hambantota Port for its opening ceremony on the 18th.
SLPA Chairman, Dr. P.B. Wickrama said that while Pradeepa II, Seruvila and Ruhunupura will call at the Hambantota Port for its opening ceremony, other ships would call at the Port during the ‘next few weeks.’
Speaking of Pradeepa II, Dr. Wickrama said “After the Port opening, Pradeepa II will be docked at the passenger terminal at the Galle Port and we are looking at using it for tourism by providing rides in it for a fee,” he said.
Chinese companies China Harbour Engineering Company and Sinohydro Corporation are constructing the Hambantota Port. The total cost of the first phase of the project is estimated at US$ 360 million, including US$ 76.5 million for the bunker terminal.

6 Comments for “Sham Openings”

  1. maluman

    disgusting effort of egoism, self-promotion and self-glorification at the expense that the country cannot afford

  2. janatha

    people in this country knows that the harbor was not opened yet. It was the filling of water at auspicious time in august not an opening. Again on 18th just mark the arrival of a ship into the harbor. where do u hide your face once the construction is finished. On which day u have taken this photo. please display the date…ha..ha..

  3. Johann Gunasekara

    Ok so its not ready but will be in the next few months and the ‘soft opening’ will coincide with the launch of his second term with all the fan fare, so what? Are you incapable of giving credit where it is due, but merely whinge at every turn?

    The port will be the pride of the south and geographically strategic to serve the global shipping lanes in years to come, a real boost to employment in an area that has been impoverished and epicentre of two bloody insurrections

    Where CBK and RW failed MR succeeded in negotiating a politically sensitive issue in this majority catholic area and the much needed power plant is a now a reality and will help boost the economic growth

    Let’s be possitive and give credit where it is due, even most powerful appreciate this.

  4. Ariya

    Oh, come on, Leader, the war is over, so stop acting like a kindergarten child. Stop being happy when things go against our Motherland! Enough!

  5. Jvoice

    Another joke. No matter what you do, SL will still be a third world fly infested dengue dump. Oh yes with a crook and a human rights abuser for a president.

  6. sam

    Go ahead MR….!!! Even Lord Buddha and Jesus had criticizers. So no surprise of this. Do your good work.

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