X-Press Pearl Fire: Views on national misfortunes should be in good faith – Minister

The following is a statement based on the remarks made by Honourable Rohitha Abeygunawardena, Minister of Ports and Shipping at the press conference held yesterday in Colombo to explain the fire on X-Press Pearl, a containership.

There is a lot of talks these days about the fire on the X- Press Pearl operated by X-Press Feeders. We see this as a very unfortunate event that happened unexpectedly. We see that different parties are giving different interpretations that could drag this story into a political spectacle. Therefore, as the Minister of Ports and Shipping and as the head of other institutions within the same Ministry, I am duty-bound to clarify this matter and make people aware of the current situation.

We see one allegation in recent days that is this issue was caused upon reaching the port of Colombo despite knowing that the ship was rejected by other ports. But we can clearly say that this ship had anchored in the outer port of Colombo only after entering all the three ports of Jabel Ali Port in Dubai, Hamad Port in Qatar and Hazira Port in India as scheduled her voyage.

Therefore, we refer to all those who have expressed views contrary to this as being done with malicious intent and with the motive of making this into a political issue.

Therefore, we urge everyone not to look at this matter from a political point of view.

In addition, it appears that certain parties presented their views on social networking sites. In those contents, I saw one professor presenting her views on this matter. When an incident occurs in a country, if any information is presented in good faith for future action to prevent it, we as a government will unconditionally respect it. But if we express our views to gain political mileage, we see it as a very low-level politics.

The opinion expressed by this professor was communicated on social media. I would like to point out to you that after expressing her opinion, her interview on a YouTube channel reveals a lot about her. It is very important to express one’s opinion responsibly. I would like to emphasize that we have never neglected our responsibilities from the moment that this ship arrived at the Outer Harbor in Colombo on the night of May 19, 2021, to the present moment.

The Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) has taken steps to keep tugboats at the relevant locations, even during inclement weather, to minimize environmental damage. Sometimes I see find people saying that we brought this ship and took a torch and lit this ship. But I want to make it very clear that we need to be very smart in situations like this.

If I may speak in terms of productivity of the Ministry of Ports and Shipping and the Sri Lanka Ports Authority, I think we need to make people aware of the number of ships that called at the Port of Colombo annually. 4198 in 2019, 3806 in 2020 and 1521 in 2021 to date. We are a transshipment hub port in the region which operates large numbers of ships annually. As you knows, unfortunate incidents like these are often experienced in this industry.

We make it clear that the President His Excellency Gotabaya Rajapaksa as our leader will never be a government that neglects its responsibilities.

We are ready to fulfill that responsibility. We have pointed out that it is a government that has fulfilled those responsibilities.

The then President His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa and Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa accepted the challenge which four heads of state could not end, which is the 30-year long conflict in this country.

If this country is harmed we will take all possible measures against it. Therefore, it is very disgraceful to try to take advantage of such unfortunate incidents and gain political advantage. As the Government, we appreciate all those who expressed their views in good faith in this regard. But their views must be verified with accurate data.

If this country is harmed we will take all possible measures against it. Therefore, it is very disgraceful to try to take advantage of such unfortunate incidents and gain political advantage. As the Government, we appreciate all those who expressed their views in good faith in this regard. But their views must be verified with accurate data.

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