SLPA is one of the main pillars of the country and a major economic strength.General Daya Ratnayake, Chairman SLPA
The 2020 Gold Awards ceremony for retired employees of Sri Lanka Ports Authority was held yesterday under the patronage of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa at the Temple Trees in Colombo. Minister of Ports and Shipping Johnston Fernando, State Minister of Ports Development Affairs Kanaka Herath, Secretary to the Ports and Shipping Mr M. M. P. K. Mayadunne, and the Chairman of Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) General Daya Ratnayake, other high ranking officials of the SLPA management witnessed the ceremony of gratitude.
The award is once in lifetime recognition for retired employees of SLPA in appreciation of their tremendous and dedicated performance during service in SLPA. 438 retired SLPA employees of more than 15, 25 and 35 years of service have been awarded for this year’s awards.
While delivering the welcome remarks, Mr D. Upali De Zoysa, Additional Managing Director, explained the importance of the event. “We are pleased to honour all of you who have tirelessly contributed to the development of the SLPA. We are happy that all of you are working to improve the economy of this country even after retirement,” he said.
Addressing the event SLPA Chairman General Daya Ratnayake says that “I am fortunate to be grateful to have you brought to the best place possible to award your magnified service to the SLPA”.
“SLPA is one of the main pillars of the country and a major economic strength. As of 2005, we handled only two point five million containers (Twenty-foot equivalent units – TEUs). Between 2005 and 2015, there was a great improvement in the port sector. As a result, by 2015 we had increased the container handling by over hundred per cent,” he said.
“But unfortunately after 2015, we had a dark period where there was a lot of confusion in management. But, gradually we will solve them all for the betterment of the SLPA and the country,” he added.
“I would like to confirm at this point, the work on the delayed East Container Terminal has already begun. Work on the proposed West Terminal is also underway. Steps are being taken to build a special terminal for passenger ships in Colombo Port. Several developments such as the development of the port of Galle, the development of the Trincomalee harbour, have been commenced,” he further noted.
Meanwhile, addressing the ceremony the State Minister of Ports Development Affairs Kanaka Herath said that “all of you who have retired from service after great service to the SLPA, and all those who have served and sacrificed their lives should be honoured. We should take this opportunity to recall and pay gratitude to former ministers like P. B. G. Kalugalla and Lalith Athulathmudali who are among the pioneers in developments of the port sector.”
“Later, Hon. Mahinda Rajapaksa is a leader who has done a tremendous service for the development of the port sector in the country. Not only did he took the necessary steps to improve the ports already functioned, but he also created a new one. But due to the dark period that we have gone through since 2015, the opportunity to develop the port sector was missed,” the state Minister asserted.
“However, the new government hopes to improve the port sector by taking appropriate actions based on decisive decisions,” the Minister further added.
Addressing the ceremony, Minister of Ports and Shipping Johnston Fernando said that “this ceremony of gratitude inaugurated in 2010. But, unfortunately, this annual event has not been held since 2017. At a progress review meeting we held, it was decided to hold the event under the patronage of the Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.”
“SLPA is the only state institute which rewards with a gold medal after retirement as a token of gratitude,” the Minister said.
“I think it is very important that all of you who have been overcome in a variety of problems during your tenure finally get together in one place after retirement and honour this way,” he added.
While assessing the development of the port sector in the country the Minister says, “under the former Minister Lalith Athulathmudali the port sector has improved. The next gigantic step was taken by Prime Minister then President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Prime Minister Rajapaksa was committed not only to the development of the existing ports but also to the creation of a new harbour. The service rendered by Prime Minister Rajapaksa, who won a country and ended the war that many said cannot be done, is invaluable.”
“The challenge for us is how to compete with other ports in neighbouring countries. We have passed the dark period since 2015. In this dark period, the port of Hambantota has been sold based on a single decision made by a minister. This has been done without any constructive assessment. A lot of that happened in the dark period. We must correct them. That is the true meaning of our new political message to the world.”
“The government that defeated a terrorist organization that everyone said could not be defeated faced various harassments within a short period. It is because we have forgotten the truth of that historic victory. Such a thing should not happen again. We must contribute to the development of our country without being fooled by childish criticism,” the Minister requested.
Additional secretaries to the Ministry of Ports and Shipping, Vice-Chairman of SLPA – Mr W. S. Weeraman, Managing Director of SLPA – Captain Athula Hewavitharana, Mr. D. Upali De Zoysa, Additional Managing Director of SLPA, Directors, Heads of Divisions and several higher officials of the management of SLPA also joined the award ceremony. The ceremony is the 10th consecutive gold awards ceremony for retired SLPA employees that started parallel to the 35th Anniversary of Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) in 2014.