15 June,  2003, Volume 9, Issue 47

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BUSINESS

Incorporate THC into freight rate, urges Shippers Council

The Sri Lanka Shippers Council (SLSC) last week called for legislation to incorporate the Terminal Handling Charges (THC) into the freight rate.

They stated that the separation of the THC from the freight rate is an anti-competitive and unfair trade practice. It was noted that this could result in Sri Lanka losing its export competitiveness and consumers having to pay higher prices.

Chairman, SLSC, R.S. Ratnapala said Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Ravi Karunanayake had pledged his support to get the necessary legislation passed.

He pointed out that the THC was incorporated into the freight rate until 1994 in the case of import cargo and upto 1997 in the case of export cargo.

The council has made representations on this issue to the Exporters Forum since February last year. They stated that a study proved that most components of THC are not land based as claimed by the shipping lines. Most of the components are ship based and forms part of the ships operational or administrative costs. The study also confirmed that there is a profit element.

It was also pointed out that there is an over recovery of THC on LCL (Less Container Load) exports. “Thus, shipping lines are making a substantial profit,” said Ratnapala.

He also stated that 60% of Sri Lanka’s exports are on FOB terms. Exporters have been compelled to incur the cost after 1997, resulting in a drastic effect on the bottom-line.

The port of Colombo in the recent past signed many terminal agreements (TSA) with carriers offering volume rebates. “If one were to agree with the position of the lines the THC is an actual recovery of the land based cost, therefore, the benefits enjoyed by the lines through the TSA’s should have to be passed down to the shippers. This has not happened and the council does not see it happening either. The fact is that the lines recover a higher amount from the shipper and pay a lesser amount to the port,” said Ratnapala.

He added that though the shipping lines claim that C & F (Cost and Freight) shippers enjoy the benefit of THC being included in the freight rate, it is not so. Only the large exporters and the multinationals with the bargaining power enjoy the facility. The small and medium scale exporters are at the mercy of the shipping lines.

Ratnapala said THC is not applicable in the Middle Eastern Ports, Israel and New Zealand. There is intense pressure in China and the ASEAN region to follow the same.

He also pointed out that heavy lobbying is continuing in many parts of the world against THC being levied as a separate component to freight.

In today’s context where cargo is moved across continents, the shipping lines include land based costs such as land transport, transhipment port charges in the freight rate. “Then the question arises as to why the reluctance to include THC into the freight rate. The answer is very simple. THC is non-transparent and as such separating the THC from the freight gives an added benefit to the lines. The government by refusing to legislate, supports the mega carriers to practice anti-competitive methods,” stated the council at a media briefing held at the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.

They claimed that on several occasions they have indicated their willingness to resolve the issue with the Ceylon Association of Ships’ Agents (CASA). However, CASA has refused to entertain the proposals and the council has taken a decision not to negotiate with the association any further.

The THC was first introduced on import cargo in 1994. During the same period the shipping lines wanted to introduce THC on exports as well. However, due to strong lobbying by the SLSC and the stand taken by the then government this did not take place.

In 1997 the shipping lines with the support of CASA introduced a charge which was known as the freight surcharge.

The council realised that it was another term to recover the THC and lobbied against it and requested shipping lines to recover the freight surcharge from the party paying the freight, therefore preventing the FOB shipper from having to absorb this charge.

Shipping lines immediately termed freight surcharges (which was 61 US Dollars per 20-foot container) as THC.

The Shippers Council together with the Exporters’ Association of Sri Lanka (EASL) took up the position that all such charges should be incorporated into the freight rate. However, the shipping lines refused to incorporate THC into the freight rate.

The council and the Exporters Association thereafter made representations to the then Minister of Ports and Shipping who issued a directive to the effect that THC should be included in the all inclusive freight. CASA and shipping lines ignored this directive.

Thereafter, the matter was taken up by the Shippers Council and the Exporters Association with the Fair Trading Commission and they obtained a ruling in favour of the shippers. Unfortunately, the Fair Trading Commission did not have the power to implement this ruling. Thereafter, the lines continued to increase the THC.

Having realised that the ruling by the Fair Trading Commission was not implemented, the Shippers Council took up the matter with the President who was the Minister of Ports and Shipping and with the Secretary to the President.

 The Presidential Secretariat summoned a meeting at which the Secretariat requested the shipping lines to freeze any further increases as the authorities concerned realised that this charge was an anti competitive practice and requested the lines to come up with a formula to incorporate all charges to the freight rate. Thereafter, nothing significant took place, and the shipping lines kept on increasing the THC.


Potential for mobile telephony

“There is little doubt that mobile telephony would be the personal communications medium of choice in the Sri Lankan market in years to come. The potential can be seen from the penetration gap — today telephony penetration is around eight percent. Sri Lanka, based on medium term GDP growth indicators, has the potential to ramp this up to 25 percent or more over the next few years. We should however be cautious about these relatively bullish expectations — a key requirement would be the overall development of infrastructure outside the western province with a significant improvement of telecommunications facilities,” said CEO, Dialog GSM, Dr. Hans Wijayasuriya in an interview with Dinesh Weerakkody. Following are excerpts:

 Q: To begin, what are the challenges currently faced by the cellular providers?

A: I believe it is fair to say that cellular providers have played a crucial role in doubling telephony penetration in Sri Lanka within the space of a few years.

It is extremely rewarding to observe that today access to a mobile phone is no longer a luxury and I hope that in the near future it will be within the reach of each and every household in our country.

The aggressive expansion of coverage and subscriber capacity while maintaining consumer affordability is not easy for operators.

Taking the challenge of maintaining viability of service provision to start with, the cellular industry has suffered with an inequitable interconnect regime ever since its inception.

The absence of interconnect revenues for calls terminated on mobile networks has a direct impact on returns on investment which in return influences the perceived viability of future investments.

Cellular providers have been seeking a solution to this anomaly in the interconnect regime by way of the introduction of a calling party pays (CPP) regime. We are all hopeful that this long standing issue — in fact CPP was mooted over seven years ago — will be resolved during the course of 2003.

In addition to sector economics, the macro-economy has a critical impact on infrastructure providers.

For example the devaluation of the local currency has a direct negative impact resulting from the fact that infrastructure procurements, direct investments and foreign borrowings are incurred in foreign currency whereas ongoing revenues are denominated in Sri Lanka rupees.

It follows that unless the currency is stable, real returns can in fact turn negative due to factors completely beyond the control of the network operators.

Infrastructure and Infrastructure development based challenges are also very significant impediments to rapid growth. I would place power, access, transmission backbones and interconnection capacities between networks within the broad classification of infrastructure.

In addition to challenges arising due to the inadequacy of such facilities to facilitate the growth rates we would like to maintain, build out is also hindered by unnecessarily length approval procedures which are not attuned to the requirements of modern high capacity telecommunications networks.

I am happy to note that several governmental institutions are now reviewing these procedures with a view to facilitating the development programmes of the operators.

I feel the country as a whole needs to take a bold step where infrastructure is concerned since basic infrastructure can facilitate multiple industries and in the sequel the absence of it could slow down growth significantly — for example Dialog had to set up its own high bandwidth satellite links to provide connectivity to the north and east.

Q; What was the rationale for Dialog’s recent Rs. 9 billion investment?

A: Telekom Malaysia’s rationale in this respect was clearly underpinned by a strong confidence in Sri Lanka and the local market for telecommunications services. A key driver of Dialog’s success has been the fact that Telekom Malaysia has been a committed and resilient investor.

Resilience is a key requirement in the telecommunications sector especially in developing nations, the hard times tend to stretch over several years and an investor needs to think far beyond immediate returns.

The recent investment doubles the investment of close to 100 million dollars already invested in the Dialog network and will fuel the development of the network over the next two years in terms of subscriber capacity, coverage and state of the art value added services.

A key element of the network’s development programme over the next couple of years would be the introduction of a dual band GSM 900-1800 network.

With the impending allocation of GSM 1800 spectrum to Dialog, the network will be upgraded to a dual band status in a few months time — this will put us on par with other high capacity dual band networks in the region and will deliver manifold improvements in service quality and subscriber capacity.

In addition to the GSM 900-1800 dual band network, we will double the 300 plus base stations we operate today to over 600 within a space of two years. This would naturally mean wider coverage and expanded subscriber capacity.

We have also made large investments in our customer service infrastructure to provide 24 hour customer service to our subscriber base which now exceeds 600,000. The first milestone was the establishment of a state of the art call center which is billed as the most modern in Sri Lanka

This call center provides toll-free service to our customers 24x7. The investment programme will also support large scale development of our related businesses.

With our international gateway, Dialog Global was the first off the ground following the recent liberalisation of the international sector – we will continue to play a lead role in this new market and significant investments will continue to be ploughed in to expand connectivity to/from Sri Lanka at affordable cost.

Dialog Internet is also growing rapidly and recently completed infrastructure projects include the “wiring up” of the World Trade Centre with optic fibre providing ‘Internet on tap’ anywhere within the twin towers.

Q: Is there still room to grow the cellular business?

A: There is little doubt that mobile telephony would be the personal communications medium of choice in the Sri Lankan market in years to come.

The potential can be seen from the penetration gap — today telephony penetration is around eight percent. Sri Lanka, based on medium term GDP growth indicators, has the potential to ramp this up to 25 percent or more over the next few years.

We should however be cautious about these relatively bullish expectations — a key requirement would be the overall development of infrastructure outside the western province with a significant improvement of telecommunications facilities as well as general economic conditions and purchasing power of the citizens of the other provinces of the country.

Q: Are you dealing with the congestion problem?

A: Large scale upgrades to network capacity are underway as I mentioned earlier. Key among these is the dual-band configuration, which will deliver an immediate increase in traffic channels.

The allocation of GSM 1800 spectrum will fill a long pending need of Dialog — the country’s fastest growing network — as of today we have the narrowest allocation of spectrum from amongst the operators, but accommodate by far the largest subscriber base which is not an equitable scenario and places a significant burden on the network with respect to build out speed.

A narrow spectrum allocation means more cell site development and a dense network architecture down to the level of micro and pico cells.

With the allocation of GSM 1800 spectrum we will be in a strong position to meet subscriber demand to the full.

So far I have spoken about the capacity enhancement of our own network; there are also inter-network considerations which the industry needs to work on collectively – there should be sufficient interconnection capacity between networks in order to ensure high completion rates on inter-network calls. 

The latter is a collective responsibility of all operators, while ensuring intra-network capacity (example completion rate on a Dialog to Dialog call) is clearly our own.


Emphasis launched

Emphasis, a people-oriented company, was launched in May 2003 headed by Managing Director Glenda Parthipan. Its ethos is about new age thinking, building strong relationships, being professional, looking at the finer details, making ideas a reality and creating lasting impressions.

The company’s main focus is public relations, event management and promotions. They have an array of innovative ideas for potential clients.

Public relations involves promoting a positive image of corporate entities, government, celebrities and social responsibility campaigns.

This includes organising press conferences and feature articles, generating television and radio coverage, and designing annual reports and profiles. A new concept is PR for political parties and politicians which entails image building in order to inform the important decision makers.

In event management, every aspect of an event, such as product launches, award ceremonies, conferences, beauty pageants, musical concerts, fashion shows, fund-raising projects, exhibitions and carnivals, can be organised by Emphasis so that the client’s mind is at ease.

Promotions involve short-term exciting happenings which quickly translate into real results. This can be for schools, offices, supermarkets, personalities, products or seasons.

Additional facilities include web designing and hosting, television production, sports marketing, artiste management, photography and wedding planning.

The essence of Emphasis is captured in its logo. The word ‘emphasis’ stresses the significance they attach to clients and their projects. The ‘I’ in emphasis is an exclamation mark which further demonstrates importance.

Within the exclamation mark are different images. The faces show the human side of PR, the musical note displays their passion for entertainment and events, and the stars depict creativity and results.

Glenda’s educational background, work experience and vibrant personality make her the ideal candidate to run a public relations outfit like Emphasis. Even during her undergraduate days, she was organising entertainment for the wives and children of expatriates.

After graduating from the University of Kelaniya in Mass Communications, Economics and French, Glenda began her six-year career at Phoenix Advertising as an account executive where she handled some of the blue-chip companies in finance, insurance and real estate. She also obtained a CIM (Chartered Institute of Marketing) diploma, which is beneficial when liaising with clients.

She then worked for the Ceylinco Group for seven years in different capacities. As the Communications Manager, she was responsible for launching the first private sector savings bank in Sri Lanka. Being the Executive Director of Aratuwa, the first Sinhalese business newspaper, she has the ability to work with journalists and understands the media market place.

Dealing with women’s issues and micro-credit in rural areas was her duty as Director of Grameen Credit. Furthermore, she coordinated business chat shows and planned social responsibility and poverty alleviation projects with the Ceylinco Group. This confident, creative lady believes in facing challenges head on. Throughout her work life, her talents and capabilities were recognised early on and thus important responsibilities were handed to her.

With a colourful ancestry as the daughter of an Iraqi mother and Sri Lankan father, Glenda has a flair for languages and has developed a keen eye for fashion and interiors. She is the wife of Mathi K. Parthipan, Managing Director of BTOptions, the company that publishes Explore Sri Lanka, Business Today and Style, and pioneered MindHead, the premier game zone and Internet café. She is grateful to her husband, friends and family for their support and encouragement with this venture.

With her extensive travels abroad for beauty pageants, trade fairs and musical concerts, she is up-to-date with the latest international trends and has a special interest in cinema and music. Her boundless enthusiasm and warm smile ensure you that you’re in safe hands. Be prepared when Emphasis takes Sri Lanka to new heights!

The uniqueness of Cheng Shin & Maxxis Passenger Car Radial (PCR) is that it has a nylon cap made out of a special rubber compound providing additional 5th ply as a fuller wrapper around that any other conventional passenger car radial in the local market does not have. Cheng Shin/Maxxis is the only nylon cap radial tyre available for the first time in Sri Lanka. Nylon cap is a stronger tourniquet that provides longer life, better performance and enhances protection against peeling, penetration, cutting, abrasion and bursting of the tyre.

Nylon cap is the updated tyre engineering feat of the millennium. These premium products are being cherished with a free worldwide comprehensive general blanket liability insurance policy to an aggregate limit of US$ 5,000,000. It gives a mileage around 40,000 km, which is absolutely cost effective and long lasting. Presently its complaint ratio stands at almost zero level. Up to date 400,000 Cheng Shin & Maxxis tyres have been sold in Sri Lanka without a single complaint.

The Cheng Shin/Maxxis company profile has an illustrious solid reputation and it is being produced through many plants positioned in Japan, USA, Germany, Canada and Holland that would meet up with your need whether you drive through city streets or open highways carrying passengers or heavy cargo across longer destinations, still promises to deliver an uninterrupted performance for you transport priorities.


ABS to conduct ICSA programme

The Academy of Business Studies Private Limited (ABS) has won exclusive rights to conduct the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA) programme in Sri Lanka.

This was stated at a recent press conference to announce the launch of a strategic partnership.

Under the agreement, ABS would provide training for students pursuing studies for the ICSA UK programme and help promote this prestigious programme in Sri Lanka. The academy now takes up the challenge of successfully promoting the qualification, confident that it will help satisfy corporate sector needs like corporate governance, responsibility and accountability.


JKH achieves record net profit 

The consolidated net profits of John Keells Holdings for the year ended March 31, 2003 grew by 143.6% to reach a record Rs. 1.3 billion. Strong contributions to profit growth were witnessed  from virtually all sectors during the past year, while their successful bid for Lanka Marine Services (LMS) in August last year added another feather to their cap.

Pre-tax return on capital employed improved to 14.4% from 9.2% last year. “Amidst an improving economic backdrop, it was a year that saw our prudent but astute decisions of the past bear fruit, reaffirming that the JKH business model works, and that the team at JKH delivers,” stated Chairman, V. Lintotawela.

Given below are excerpts of his message in the JKH annual report 2002/03:

Peace negotiations between the government and the LTTE have already contributed significantly towards healing the economic woes of the recent past. Economic growth rebounded to 4.0% in 2002, defence spending has fallen, interest rates have eased and tourist arrivals have also risen sharply. These are merely a few glimpses of what peace could offer.

Given our presence in the key growth sectors of the local economy, we are ideally poised to reap the benefits of an economic resurgence. Our leisure sector is well positioned, with a number of resorts in strategic locations,

We are present in virtually all facets of international transportation, and the sector will undoubtedly be a key beneficiary of the likely pick up in trade activity and business confidence. Moreover, owning two of the best-known F&B brands in the country, the pick up in consumer demand has a natural positive impact on our bottomline while our presence in the country’s financial services sector also continues to grow.

As a conglomerate, we have an unmitigated responsibility to generate steady returns, irrespective of broader economic conditions. As we pledged in last year’s report, we have attempted to skew our portfolio towards the less cyclical areas of the economy. Despite many conglomerates resorting to focus strategies, we are confident that diversification will remain our formula for generating superior shareholder returns.

We believe our strength lies in identifying under-performing acquisition targets and converting these into significant value creators. Our track record proves this. We also recognise that active portfolio management is the key to successful diversification. Notwithstanding the record profits earned this year, we mandated the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) to help institutionalise portfolio evaluation and improve our internal operating model.

JKH perceives good corporate governance as being integral in building credibility and trust with all stakeholders and reducing our cost of capital. Corporate governance may seem like a buzzword to many, but for us it is a way of life. We also recognise that the well being of our community and the broader environs in which we operate, are inexorably linked with the fortunes of our corporate existence.


Promote the local construction industry 

We must go for the best consultancy firms in the world if Sri Lankan money is used to pay for their professional services. This way the image of Sri Lanka could be enhanced and be comparable with the most modern cities in the region.

This is exactly what the Middle Eastern countries and even Singapore, Malaysia and China have done and  are doing at the moment.

The construction industry is reviving slowly after the severe slump over the past four to five years. Part of the Southern Highway Project has commenced and several other projects that were in the pipeline are now getting into a more positive mode towards implementation.

The interest among foreign investors from several countries is encouraging. The trend that is building up is primarily private sector oriented and if the public sector stops vacillating and facilitates approvals, with land, and the necessary  infrastructure facilities expeditiously the construction industry and the economy could turn around much faster.

We are aware that under the directions of the government, a plan for the development of the Western Province is to be prepared, along  with the development of the Wellawatte Mills site and a few other projects.

Our chamber is fully supportive and is in agreement with the government that these projects should be implemented without delay. This is the only way that we could re-activate the construction industry and transform the Western Province for the needs of today and for at least those of the next 20 years and also be competitive with our neighbours in Asia.

However, serious repercussions detrimental to the members of our chamber particularly in the planning, architectural and engineering professions are anticipated. Several government agencies are in the process of introducing mediocre foreign planning and architectural firms to prepare a western regional plan and also to undertake real estate development projects.

These firms are hardly firms of international repute and in that context certain Sri Lankan firms are better and more experienced than these foreign firms.

As mentioned above we must go for the best firms in the world. If not another practice that some countries follow is for local firms to collaborate with foreign firms once again with the best in the world and participate in open competitions.

The selection is made independently by an international Jury to  ensure that fair play and justice prevails. Why cannot Sri Lanka follow this practice? If so there would then be technology transfer and the end result would be a 21st century product.

The payment to the best firms of the world are the same as the rates presently being negotiated by the government agencies to pay the 20th century firms referred to above. No alternative firms to the best of our knowledge were consulted by the government agencies prior to selecting these firms.

This type of action by the government destroys the enthusiasm and aspirations of the local professionals and the private sector who are waiting to launch after the recent downturn in the construction sector.

In the recent past several major projects were initiated in the cultural, residential, highway and urban development sector by the previous government, where millions of dollars were paid to consultants and contractors and these projects were subsequently aborted.

This is extremely tragic and unfortunate since nobody seems to be held accountable for this expenditure. The irony is that the mistakes made by the previous government are repeated by this government.

One of the primary reasons why the chamber was formed was to highlight anomalies of this nature.

Due to the fantasies of politicians the members of the construction industry comprising consultants, contractors, skilled and unskilled workers, suppliers and manufacturers of building materials are undergoing severe hardships with the scarcity of  work and consequently are at the mercy of the banks due to delays in the settlement of their dues by the government.

In the government’s policy initiative “Regaining Sri Lanka,” several major projects to be implemented have been highlighted. Accordingly, over US$ three billion has been pledged by the donor countries on the basis of US$ one billion per year.

The chamber has been regularly pointing out to ministers and officials that to get best value from this huge fund there should be several integrated development plans and projects designed and ready for implementation not only for the north and east but also for other parts of the country

Unfortunately, we are not aware of any comprehensive plans besides the sect oral assessments for the north and east identified in the “Post Conflict Needs Assessment Survey” by the donors and the projects mentioned in the “Regaining Sri Lanka” documents which are not detailed in anyway.

It would therefore be optimistic to believe that even 25% of the funds pledged by the donor countries would be utilised for the reasons mentioned above. Our inability to utilise these funds fully may mean that we have overlooked an important opportunity, after many years of stagnation.

Once again the Chamber of Construction Industry Sri Lanka, wish to offer our services to the government to work in partnership with them to accelerate the decision making and implementation process of the “Regaining Sri Lanka” document.

Inability to act on time may reduce the construction industry to a level of mere spectators watching our projects being hijacked by foreign companies for no fault of ours.

      President, Chamber of Construction Industry Sri Lanka, Deshabandu Surath Wickramasinghe


The importance of lightning protection

Surge protection — a topic that has become increasingly important in recent years because costly electronic equipment that is sensitive to voltage peaks on the supply is no longer found only in offices and factories but in our homes as well.

Nowadays, high sensitive data processing, telecommunications and computer networks form the backbone of worldwide communications structures without which no company or public body can survive. Machines and production lines are monitored and controlled by electronic programmers, and even many creative services are no longer conceivable without the aid of computers.

Common to all of them is their dependence on electrical energy, on high and low voltage systems and on a continuous supply of power around the clock. The incidence of damage, some of it considerable, caused by over voltage surges, has increased markedly in recent years. Why is this? The reason is not, as one might imagine, increased thunderstorm activity.

There are two reasons here. One is the fact that nowadays our homes contain more sensitive electronic equipment than ever before. It is a long time since it was only the television set that was sensitive to surges. In the field of entertainment electronics, hi-fi installations, video recorders and DVD players, home PCs and peripherals are all vulnerable to over voltages on the low voltage network. In addition, there are electronically controlled devices in almost every field of building technology, from the heating system and the telephone system to the alarm installation, as well as a broad range of domestic and kitchen appliances from the sensor controlled electric cooker to the programmable washing machine.

The other reason is the effect of technological progress. The electronic chips formerly used were more resistant to surges. What has now made the components more sensitive to surges was the reduction by a factor of ten in the spacing of the conductors. One result of this is that even relatively low voltage peaks of a few dozen volts on the data line are enough to destroy the interface card in an internet PC.

Many factors are responsible for over voltage surges in the low voltage systems, measurement and control systems and computer networks. The following four categories pose the greatest danger.

1. Direct lightning strike: If lightning directly strikes a building with external lightning protection or if it strikes structures on the roof that are earthed in a manner capable of carrying lightning current (roof antenna, satellite installation, etc), the result at the earth impedance is a voltage rise and coupling of the high partial lightning currents via the protective earth conductor into the building installation and the connected appliances. Lightning may also directly strike the power supply lines (low voltage overhead lines) or data lines, causing high partial-lightning currents to be coupled into the building.

2. Nearby lightning strike: Even if a building is not itself struck by lightning, strikes nearby may cause voltage peaks in the building installation. The surges reach the wiring of electrical installations and equipment directly or by inductive or capacitive coupling. Partial lightning currents maybe coupled via the earth into the earthing installation and cause significant damage (direct coupling), or voltage peaks may reach the building installation by induction from the magnetic field emitted by the lightning channel. Long wiring loops within buildings in particular may act as antennae and favor inductive coupling. An electrical field causes capacitive coupling with high potential difference between two points, for example between a lightning channel and electric conductors.

3. Distant lightning strike. Even lightning strikes at distances of several hundred meters can cause considerable damage on low voltage and data lines as a result of direct, inductive or capacitive coupling on to earthling installations of buildings. Even the electromagnetic field caused by lightning discharges inside clouds or parts of clouds can couple voltage peaks in to lines.

4. Switching surges: Switching surges arise from on and off-switching operations, from the switching of inductive and capacitive loads and from breaking of short circuit currents. In particular the disconnection of production plant, lightning systems or transformers may lead to damage in electrical equipment nearby.

The largest voltage peaks on the low voltage consumer network are caused by lightning discharges. The high energy content of lightning surges in the case of a direct lightning strike on the external lightning protection installation or on a low voltage overhead line usually causes complete failure of the connected loads and damage to the insulation. Induced voltage peaks on installations in buildings and on power or data lines can also reach several times the nominal operating voltage. Switching surges do not cause such high voltage peaks as lightning discharges, but they do occur far more  frequently and can still result in immediate failure of the installations. Switching surges reach two or three times the operating voltages, whilst lightning surges can sometimes reach twenty times the rated voltage and carry a large amount of energy. Failures often occur later, since the ageing of the components caused by the smaller transients causes gradual damage to the electronics.

Rotax Limited has always been in the forefront of innovative product lines. To give consumers the best lightning protection, Rotax Limited have marketed a high quality internationally renowned product for lightning protection : OBO-Bettermann. For many years, OBO-Bettermann (Germany) has been involved in the development and protection and control systems that ensure a secure supply of energy, even under favorable conditions and which prevent damages due to voltage peaks or lightning strikes.

OBO-Bettermann surge protection devices are divided in to three classes B, C and D, corresponding to different requirements in terms of installation site, protection level and impulse current carrying capacity.

The purpose of this classification is to provide selective surge protection, which guarantees a high-energy absorption capacity together with lowest possible protection level. The subdivision  corresponds to the stipulations of DIN VDE 0675 part 6 A1 and A2. This standard sets out design guide lines, requirements and tests for surge arresters used in alternating current networks with rated voltages up to 1,000 V and rated frequencies between 50Hz and 60Hz.

Rotax Limited will evaluate your requirement and specify the appropriate lightning protection system of OBO Bettermann to give the enhanced lightning protection possible. For lightning protection with total reliability, Rotax Limited is the name to count on.


ETF grant for children successful at year five scholarship examination

Children of active members of the Employees’ Trust Fund (ETF), who have been successful at the year five scholarship examination will be eligible for an award of Rs. 10,000.

This grant will be made  in order of merit for the first 2500 children among those who are successful in the country.

The monies will be deposited in an interest bearing savings bank account of National Savings Bank.

The parents or guardian will be eligible to withdraw the interest accruing to this account at the end of each year if necessary. However, the principal amount may be withdrawn by the child on his reaching the age of 18 years.

Members who have membership for a period of one year and should have contributed continuously on due dates for a period of six months prior to the scholarship examination.

Those who are self employed should have regular contributions to the fund at least for a period of twelve months before the examination.

Applications on ‘official forms’ available at the ETF office should be submitted on or before due date according to the press advertisement to reach the Manager (Benefit Administration), ETF Board, first floor, Labour Secretariat, Colombo 5.


Jinasena staff clean wells in flood-affected areas

The Jinasena Group of Companies in an effort to bring relief to thousands of people in the flood affected areas was instrumental in cleaning over 500 wells within two weeks.

The idea to help these poor people was on the minds of the Jinasena staff long before it was put into operation.

According to Managing Director, Jinasena Engineering Holdings (Pvt) Limited, Rohan Jinasena, his employees had asked him how they could help these victims. Then when an announcement requesting assistance for these victims was made in the electronic media with a contact number, Jinasena responded.

When Jinasena contacted the media he was told to contact the district secretaries for Kalutara and Ratnapura for more details. Jinasena was then told by these secretaries that the wells in the flood affected areas needed to be cleaned.

“When I told my employees about the wells they offered to do the job voluntarily, as they felt they needed to make a contribution towards their fellow brothers and sisters,” Jinasena said.

The three Jinasena teams consisting of five people, one driver and one vehicle were then sent on May 24 to  the affected areas. According to Jinasena, the teams first went to Kalutara. Having met the relevant officials, they were instructed to first disinfect wells that a large community had been using.

“However, when the team got to the location they were unexpectedly met by villagers who had personal wells in their gardens. These villagers pleaded with my officials to clean their wells as well. When such a situation arises how can you turn your back or refuse to clean the wells?” Jinasena said. The team finally ended up doing much more work than they had originally planned.

“When disinfecting a well, a certain procedure needs to be followed. You have to first clean the well and then disinfect it,” he said. The Jinasena team then moved on to Ratnapura. However, due to the inefficiency of the relevant authorities in Ratnapura, the Jinasena team moved on to Matara.

This time there were two teams consisting of seven or eight people per team. “The teams couldn’t travel on the Matara roads, but despite the hardships they were determined to get the job done,” Jinasena said.

According to him, despite the hardships of these villagers, they tried their level best to help the teams by supplying them with biscuits and king coconuts among other items.

At the end of the two weeks, the Jinasena teams had worked in Kalutara, Horana, Bulathsinhala, Galpatha, Nagoda, Matara, Kamburupitiya, Marapana, Malimmada, Sulatanagala, Akuressa and Thejjavila, and other places as well.

The team consisted of H.G. Mahinda, G.A. Jayasena, W.G.S. Weerakantha, H.A.M. Kumara, M.A.W. Premasiri, W.K.R. Priyankara, W.J.C. Fernando, P.V.S. Gunasekera, W.L.W. Thilaksiri, G.P.H. De Silva, R.D. Dharmasena, B.U.S. Pieris, K.D.I.N. Francasius, D. Abeywickrema, N.K.S. Kumara, J. Prasanna, N. Jinasena, S. Sirimanne, S. Rapakse, P.M. Karunaratne, L. Kularatne, S. Senanayake, A.K. Herath, M. Munasinghe and S. Rajapakse.

According to Sirimanne (the main organiser of the Jinasena staff) and Mahinda (main organiser of the factory), all team members experienced a different side to life when they undertook this project. “We have to thank Nishantha Jinasena and Roshni Jinasena for working with us and giving us the support and encouragement needed,” they said.

Explaining the tremendous success of this project, Jinasena said it was amazing to see the cooperation of his employees and the security guards who are not on the Jinasena staff. It is their hard work that proved to others how much can be done in a crisis.

It is also important that more private sector people come forward to help these people. “I feel that the private sector should come forward voluntarily to help the victims, rather than wait for the government to ask for assistance,” Jinasena said.


Dry-dock repair carried out afloat

The container carrier ‘X-press Malabar’ called in the port of Colombo recently with a load of transhipment containers.

The Lloyds Register of Shipping London required an underwater survey so as to extend the vessel’s trading schedule.

The highly-rated marine organisation Colombo Engineering Enterprises headed by Kiran Atapattu was immediately mobilised to carry out the in-water survey, using the world’s most sophisticated underwater camera — the American J. W. Fishers MC-1 mini underwater camera.

During the underwater inspection this state-of-the-art underwater camera which is only five inches in length detected during the in-water survey that the ship’s rudder did not have any bottom clearance at all and which the Lloyds Register wanted immediately rectified prior to sailing of the vessel.

The vessel’s master and chief engineer immediately summoned Colombo Dockyard Limited for this job as it is normally a job which is done at the dockyards. At the same time the vessel’s management contacted Kiran Atapattu, the CEO of Colombo Engineering who positively gave them a response that this repair could be carried out by him whilst the ship was afloat and on his assurance the job was given to be done afloat by his company.

A ship repair team was immediately mobilised to design and assemble in place a device to lift-up the rudder while-in-situ.

Initially a team of expert divers secured the rudder down below to prevent it from swinging underwater with high strength securing devices.

Then divers provided more buoyancy to the rudder using ten ton floatation equipment underwater.

Then the repair team cut openings on the ship’s main deck and inserted very high quality lifting cables on to the rudder steering gear and the attachments and after welding on deck heavy steel supports and with a lifting device using a 150 ton lifting capacity hydraulic jack the rudder was lifted upwards.

Immediately a stainless steel spacer ring was manufactured and fitted in place to obtain the required clearance to enable the ship to sail and to keep to its trading schedule.

 

 

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