The whole country stinks
Posted on August 3rd, 2019

By Dr. Tilak S. Fernando Courtesy Ceylon Today

The latest news, about the import of 130 container loads of waste material to Sri Lanka from UK hospitals has reached every nook and cranny in the country and it has turned the whole country ‘upside down’, as it were. The entire populace of this country is benumbed and looks aghast when such inhuman deeds occur in front of their own eyes. Who are behind and responsible for such mortifying acts? Why has the Sri Lankan business society stooped to such an undignified level merely for the sake of earning a few extra bucks, as if there are no other decent maneuvers available to make an honest and a decent living?


Out of an entire lot of containers,102 are still lying in the Port of Colombo. So far 29 containers have been processed and re-exported, according to news sources, maybe in another illegal modus operandi! The rest of the containers, filled with garbage, are in the open, currently piled up at the Hayleys Free Zone Ltd (HFZ), also known as Advantis in the Katunayake Free Trade Zone.  The stockpile of rubbish inside these containers is piled up in an open space, which was captured by journalists’ cameras and exposed on TV news.


There have been certain speculations too about the presence of ‘some human body parts’ mixed with the garbage inside these containers, for which the UK is supposed to be conducting their own investigations. With so many developments that are taking place within such a short period of time, since the exposure, the Central Environmental Authority (CEA) has taken legal action against those who imported the containers of industrial waste without a proper license. This led to confusion, frustration and resulted in a public outcry. In their petition to Courts, the CEA has highlighted the risk of cancer and kidney disease that can spread out of the germs present in the garbage dump. Consequently, they have appealed to the Courts to rescind the documents used to import such junk, stressing the fact that the importation is in breach of the Provisions of the National Environment Act.


Meanwhile, the consignee, ETL Colombo Private Ltd, has issued a media release denying any involvement in the import of garbage-containers and stressed they are only involved in the freight forwarding business. They seem to claim the containers were imported by the Ceylon Metal Processing (Pvt) Ltd (to be re-exported)! However, none of the parties such as Hayleys Free Zone Ltd., ETL Colombo (Pvt) Limited or Ceylon Metal Processing Corporation (Pvt) Ltd can escape from the fact and responsibility of getting involved in this illegal operation as all of them are responsible and part of this importation to reprocess and re-export  such discarded  hospital waste from the UK, because none of these companies had obtained either the Environmental  Protection Licence or the Hazardous Waste Management Licence from the  CEA.


In view of the above, the CEA has ordered Hayleys Free Zone Ltd (Advantis) to export the waste material to the Country of Origin with immediate effect, quoting Sri Lanka as a signatory to the Basel Convention. The CEA has also issued clear instructions to Hayleys Free Zone Ltd (Advantis) to take immediate and remedial action to prevent any liquid or other effluents polluting the environment where they are piled up in open space.


Judging by the developments of each one pointing a finger at the other, akin to the recent Easter Sunday bomb blasts, critics are sure to come up with their own theories and conclusions to say that similar to other issues such as the Central Bank Fraud and the Easter Sunday bombing the whole issue may  be swept under the carpet like everything else, once garbage containers are re-exported the culprits involved in such illegal maneuvers may get off scot-free without any condemnation, damnation or denouncement for violating the environmental laws of the country.

Anonymous write-up doing Internet Rounds

In the meanwhile, a nameless write up is going viral on  the Internet  under the topic How Billionaire’s Money Silences Presidents, Prime Ministers, and Law and Order” highlighting  that the garbage imported from the UK by a local company is a serious violation of the laws of Sri Lanka.”


The article points out how 13 Laws, Regulations and Statutes have been violated in this operation and the manner the Central Environmental Authority and The Customs of Sri Lanka detected this and forcefully revealed the name of the Company Responsible as Hayley’s Plc. with a Freight Forwarder and a Trader jointly committing a crime under Sri Lankan Laws; furthermore, the goods imported were bonded in a warehouse that belongs to the consignee.


The article points an accusing finger particularly at Hayleys Plc., who prides itself as being a one-billion-dollar company that has won the Best Responsible Corporate Citizen Award for 6 years as having done something that casts a massive shadow on the credibility of such awards by their actions.


The article further goes to explore that ‘‘what has been revealed over the past few weeks is nothing short of the shocking truth behind criminal activity conducted under the direct purview and supervision of this company.’’

Present Trend

Does the article argue how Sri Lanka continues to allow this company to conduct its operations as if nothing has happened? Despite having extremely strong Corporate and Environmental Laws, and a powerful Penal Code, the Directors of those firms appear to be roaming freely at present. Under the circumstances, the Sri Lankan public looks on nonplussed and the local media channels in Sri Lanka and all major International Media Networks continuously expose this preposterous example of Corporate Greed!  It also points to the fact that allegations and suspicions of money laundering must be investigated. The article continues questioning as to what people in Sri Lanka could expect in the present circumstances while emphasizing the fact that this is what has happened to Sri Lanka today!”


In 2015, when the Treasury bond scandal was reported in the media, it was dubbed a witch hunt. It took over a year for the public and the authorities to understand the enormity of the theft of public savings through the EPF (Employees Provident Fund)”.


Finally, what it boils down to is the fact that extremely hazardous waste material has been imported to Sri Lanka and left unchecked, probably for years, before being finally exposed to the hilt, while suspecting that such garbage seems to contain deadly viruses such as Ebola (an infectious and frequently fatal disease marked by fever and severe internal bleeding) that can wipe out thousands, if not millions. Exposing this small island to such risks is seen as nothing but heartless action that angers every citizen”, the article continues.


Finally, it concludes stating that unless justice is done and is also seen to be done in this instance and those responsible are arrested and made to pay the price for their sins, a massive public uprising against the despondency and helplessness, in the face of a weak and useless system of maintaining law and order, cannot be avoided.

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 CT Web 02:00 AM Aug 03 2019

3 Responses to “The whole country stinks”

  1. aloy Says:

    Garbage allowed to rot in Free Trade Zone, Katunayake for 5 long years!. So, what this implies is that the value of free trade zone is even less than that of garbage.

    Today, I went to fetch someone from BIA and saw that it is a complete mess due to lack of space. Why not remove all those worthless industries from Katunayake FTZ and construct an airport that we can be proud of?.

  2. Randeniyage Says:

    @Aloy
    You are wrong. We must ‘construct’ a set of human beings to run the country.

  3. aloy Says:

    Randeniyage,

    We have enough people with stern stuff in them who can do the job. But a few bahirawayas think the country is their family property. It is time that the Mahasanga chant sethpirith and drive them away.

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