THE BRIDGE THAT WAS NEVER TO BE.THANK YOU MR. PRESIDENT.
Posted on October 20th, 2009

By Noor Nizam, former SLFP District Organizer – Trincomalee and Deputy District Organizer SLMC. Canada

19th., Oct 2009.

Kinniya is a small town in the Trincomalee District of the Eastern province of Sri Lanka. It is located about 20 km from the town of Trincomalee and 240 km from the national capital Colombo,  Location of Kinniya, Sri Lanka (Latitude: 8° 28′ 60 N, Longitude: 81° 10′ 60 E).

With over 80,000 inhabitants, 97% of Kinniya residents are ethnic Muslims with the remaining being 3% Tamils. Census statistics indicate the following information:

Area -146.9 Sq. km. No. of Grama Nilardari divisions 31. Distance from Trincomalee – 20 km. Distance to Colombo – 240 km. Population “”…” 66933. No. of families “”…” 14314.

Kinniya has a population of more than 100,000 with 32 schools catering to the children’s education within the area. It was well-known for pearl fishing and elephant hunting.

Kinniya has a 400 year old rich history. The political history is linked to the late Ehuthar Hajiar/M.E.H. Mohamed Ali/M.E.H. Mahroof family, the late Jainudeen Hjiar family, and the late Abdul Majeed family.

Trincomalee electoral district was an electoral district of Sri Lanka between August 1947 and February 1989. The district was named after the city of Trincomalee in  Trincomalee in the Eastern Province. The 1978 Constitution of Sri Lanka introduced the proportional representation electoral system for electing members  of Parliament. The existing 160 mainly single-member electoral districts were replaced with 22 multi-member electoral districts. Trincomalee electoral district was replaced by the Trincomalee multi-member electoral district at the 1989 general elections, the first under the PR system, though Trincomalee continues to be a polling division of the multi-member electoral district.

Since the implementation of the universal franchise election system for election of MPs, the following were elected to office. In 1947 A RAM Abubucker UNP, 1952 MEH Mohamed Ali Independent, 1956 MEH Mohamed Ali UNP, 1960 (March)  MEH Mohamed Ali Independent, 1960 (March)  T Ahambaram Federal Party,  1960 (July) T Abhambaram Federal Party,  1960 (July) Al Abdul Majeed SLFP, 1965 MEH Mohamed Ali Federal Party, 1965 AL Abdul Majeed SLFP, 1970 AL Abdul Majeed SLFP, 1970 A Thangathurai Federal Party, 1977 MEH Maharoof UNP, 1977 AL Abdul Majeed SLFP.

Kinniya which is a small “ƒ”¹…”island’ peninsular that is part of the natural harbor of Tricomalee, Kinniya was the WORST AFFECTED AREA during the boxing day tsunami in 2004. As a result of the tsunami, 451 death bodies were recovered. 51 of them were unidentified. Several hundreds were reported missing. It was estimated that there were a total of 8241 displaced persons; 4677 of which had were  housed in displaced camps and 3564 in homes of friends and relatives. But the humanitarian reach out assistance was just a merge when compared to the funds that were poured by INGOs and INGOs to the Tamil areas, influenced by the administration of the Provincial Council Secretariat. Kinnya was the worst affected zone visited in the Tsunami. Tsunami impact: deaths were 1075. Schools damaged 26. The District hospital (DH) which had 50 beds and a daily average OPD of 700 hundred has been completely destroyed. Many patients and 4 staff members (two nurses and their two attendants) are reported to have died in the Tsunami. The adjoining MOH office has also been raised to the ground. Cornell University USA is giving researchers the information they need as well it serves as a model for the distribution of information in future disasters for research activities set up in this location. Scientists and engineers have been  studying damage sites all over the island to evaluate the power of the tidal wave and recommend new construction standards to help such buildings withstand the expected stresses, but the Kinniya hospital site has been the best for their study.

The most affected areas in Kinniya were Rahumania Nagar, Mancholachenai, Anal Nagar and Fizal Nagar. The children are the most affected group till now. Children and youth have very few recreational opportunities in most areas. Child recruitment remained a grave concern among the 3 % Tamil population in Kinniya. 73 villages in the Trincomalee district have been identified as mine affected areas and have been de-mined to a greater extent. Many children live in an atmosphere marked by violence and insecurity, plagued by the remnants of the gun trotting groups.

Even after then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s visit Saturday, 08 January 2005, and pledges made to the Muslims of Kinniya, no changes took place. In a recent study made on the socio-economic situation of rural areas in Sri Lanka, Kinniya seems to be the worst judged. Kinniya DS division of Trincomalee district reported the lowest percentage (30.9 percent) of economically active population while the highest (65.3 percent) is reported in Neluwa DS division in Galle district.

With gratitude to the Ehuthar Haijar/M.E.H Mohamed Ali/M.E.H.Maharoof family, one cannot forget the dedicated commitments they strived to give the best to their native village Kinniya in many ways. While many philanthropist land marks in the form of the 1st Java Mosque in Periya Kinniya, the 1st school, the 1st play ground, the 1st madarasa and a list of other facilities were nitiated, funded and built by this noble family who were not only farmers but also land owners. Yet they were traditionally engaged in the pearl fishery of Kinnya, the pearls that were famous among the rich and royal families in India and other parts of the world under the British rule. It is told that when  King George the VI visits Ceylon, durting his reign,  he is taken on elephant hunting trips by the late Mahath and Ehuthar Hajiar, grand father and father of late Hon. M.E.H.Mohamed Ali MP and late Hon. M.E.H. Maharoof MP.

It was in the background of this involvement and commitment that the Mohamed Ali family (Hon. M.E.H.Maharoof MP) initiated the proposal in 1978 to built the Kinniya bridge to connect Kinniya to the mainland of Trincomalee. As a political activist and serving Hon. M.E.H.Maharoof as his private secretary during his tenure of office as the District Minister of Mannar, during that period, I had the great opportunity to work with the late MP in setting the ball rolling for the longest bridge in Sri Lankan to be built. Nevether the less, in January 2003,  three member expert team of the Saudi Development Fund visited Trincomalee and conducted a feasibility study for the proposed construction of the bridge over the Trincomalee-Kinniya lagoon at a cost of around five hundred million rupees, The bridge was to connect the Trincomalee-Batticaloa road to Trincomalee, which is called as A-15 highway, which was not in use during that time as it was in a state of disrepair and mined by LTTE activities.

The Saudi expert team comprised Engineer Mohamed Al-Ariff (Director-Asia Project), Engineer Mohamed S.Al-Gofili (Electrical Engineer) and an Economist Mr.Abdulla Al-Shedokki, The main purpose of the construction of this bridge was to re-open the Trincomalee-Batticaloa highway through Kinniya, which had been abandoned for more than three decades. With the LTTE activities tremendously increasing and their dominance over the so-called peace accord with the UNP regime and Trincomalee declared as the capital of Tamil Eelam, this was a bridge concluded by the 90,000 inhabitants of Kinniya as never to be built. With the advent of Mahinda Chinthanaya and the Government of Saudi Arabia providing Rs.710 million (US $ 200) through the Saudi Fund for Development, the bilateral soft loan for the construction in 2006, it turned a new page of hope for Kinniya. Construction  of the bridge which commenced in 2003 was supervised by the Road Development Authority.

The inhabitants and the people of Kinniya thus wish to share their joy and happiness on the completion of the construction of this longest bridge in Sri Lankan and the official vesting of the ownership to the people of Kinniya, in Sri Lanka on Tuesday, the 20th., of October 2009. The people of Kinniya wish to say a word of thanks to God AllMighty Allah “”…” ALHAMDULILLAH. To the Saudi Government, a big thank you and to the Chinese contractors “”…” China Auto Contractors and to the Road Development and Highways Ministry (Project Director and Highways Engineer Nimal Chandrasiri), congratulations for a job well done.

To you  HE. Mahinda Rajapaksa, we all in Kinniya wish to say  – Thank you Mr. President for “THE BRIDGE THAT WAS NEVER TO BE.

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