Water Transport – a bold step
Posted on August 23rd, 2019

Dr Sarath Obeysekera 

That day I had the privilege of attending the ceremony of launching the very first passenger boat in Beira Lake. Sri Lanka Land Development Corporation Act does not encompass carrying out such activity. Nevertheless, the Cooperation with the blessing from the minister had taken a very bold step in spearheading the commencement of much-needed service for the people.

Minister of transport was not to be seen in the ceremony, neither the mayor of Colombo who should have taken some initiative to support was not at the ceremony.

Despite the fact that port minister had nothing to do with transport was gracing the occasion 

We should hail the professionals in the corporation. Who has tirelessly worked with Sri Lanka Navy  to make this a success

Other than the National Housing development Authority, SLLDC  Maybe the only other state institution trying to to do some useful service to the people when the whole country is standing still

8 Responses to “Water Transport – a bold step”

  1. aloy Says:

    I believe that this is a publicity stunt and not a mode of transport. Perhaps it can be used as a leisure ride by tourist. But then who would like to get on to a boat that goes in a stinking pond polluted with all sort of discharges from toilets around the lake?.
    There are other serious issues to be tackled like the garbage problem by the Ministry of Megapolis. Perhaps Dr. Sarath’s expertise in handling of barges and jetties could come in a great way in implementing something like what Singapore is doing. How ever the nearest island in the west coast is in Puttlum area. Therefore a new one should be created close to Muthurajawela. If this is done people in the area will come with bouquets not brick bats as this area will become leisure spots like in Spore. I have the document which I purchased from them couple of years ago when the Meethotamulla happened. That book gives the whole procedure explaining how they did it. We can even put up a team to undertake it with the cooperation of Megapolis. I know even the World Bank or ADM tried to help, but when politicos tried to take bribes the lending agencies cancelled the loan. Now the GOSL says sour grapes. A dedicated team of professionals can do this with a time line of about three years. I am sure there will be enough agencies to fund it.

  2. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    Before this **Passenger Boat ** we the Sea Scouts of the 1st Port of Colombo, roamed all over the Treacherous Beira Lake, in the 1950s. We had the Sea Horse, the Shark, the Sand Piper, and our biggest was the Governor Generals Barge, where 16 Oarsmen rowed, eight on either side. This, we got as a gift from the Colombo Port. The Late Mr.Felix Abeykoon was the Group Scout Master at that time, and after he left for Australia to live with his sons, I was appointed by the Board of the Sea Scouts Club, by Mr. Doulat Kundanmal, to be the next Group Scout Master. All Kundanmal brothers, the Late Muni, Wassia, and Chella were ardent, passionate members of the Group, amongst others, who helped to keep the Group glowing.

    I wish this new venture great success. What is of Primary importance is the SAFETY of the Passengers, which cannot be compromised with great fun.

  3. Ananda-USA Says:

    I distinctly recall that a system for transport by water on the Beira lake and associated canals was implemented and put into operation under Gotabhya Rajapaksa’s direction when he was in charge of urban development in Colombo.

    What happened to that? Did the Yamapalanaya in their INFINITE JEALOUSY terminate that, and are they now REVIVING it with FANFARE as a “New Project” on the eve of the Elections to STEAL THE CREDIT??

    Irrespective of who created it, and operates it now, I join Susantha in wishing the venture a GREAT SUCCESS as a means of ADDING another beautiful feature to ENHANCE our country’s RESPLENDENCE!

  4. Randeniyage Says:

    @Ananda
    You are correct ! Actually, navy operated boats not only in the Beira lake but from as far as Kirulapone canal. But FYI it stopped after few months of operation due to some problem.

  5. Randeniyage Says:

    @Ananda
    “http://www.sundaytimes.lk/100321/Plus/plus_13.html”

    This time they are operating bigger boats.

  6. Ananda-USA Says:

    Randeiyage,

    Thank you!

  7. aloy Says:

    I reiterate that this is a wasteful exercise. Rs. 100 million is a lot of money for this sort of exercise that will come to an end just like the Wellawatte canal transport project. How did they spend that much of money to spruce up a navy owned boat and perhaps to construct one or two small landing points (jetties). These are ways of robbing poor tax payers money for their electioneering. We who live in SL have to pay lot of tax to sustain this type of wasteful expenditure by politcos. Patali himself said this year’s collection of revenue of GOSL is very much less than amount we have to pay for servicing the loans alone. So to balance recurrent expenditure (including salaries) they have to print money. Therefore the cost of items produced locally also skyrockets. You will realise this if you go to a supermarket here. On top of that Patali boasts that he has 3000 specialist working in his ministry. That alone takes close to a billion or so a month for doing virtually nothing but planning this sort of futile exercises.
    Beira lake is a cesspit with very low amount oxygen in it. That is, its BOD (Biochemical Oxygen Demand) is very high. When that happens all fish in it die and the environment gets polluted with all sorts of gasses. About a year ago I saw a lot of aerators installed and doing the remedial work. That is breaking up the water surface layer that has formed a barrier for more oxygen to get into the water. That is the right thing to do. I myself have designed and implemented that in oxidation ponds overseas. But they consume very high amount of electrical energy and maintaining them is no easy task. So no wonder they have disappeared so soon.

    As for using canals and waterways in Colombo for transport, I believe that is also a futile exercise as proved in the case of Wellawatte canal transport project. In our country due to the involvement of politicians it is very difficult to control the settlement of unauthorized people along the banks of the canals. As a result all sorts of wastes get in and obstruct transport. Even otherwise the water in urban environments gets polluted and nobody dare to get in. Even in Singapore that is the case.
    Couple of days ago I was traveling in an Uber trying to locate an address on Dr. Danister De Siva Mawaha. Due to a fault in the GPS system the driver started going on a very narrow road adjoining a canal and we came to a dead end. There I saw the extent of environmental and human degradation exiting in Colombo. Later I came to know that it is Dematagoda canal which was full of rubbish. The whole place was full of shanties and the men and women looked like drug addicts loitering there during working ours. They were demanding money from us to give way for our vehicle. I was never scared of my life before. There is lot of work for Patali’s planners there.
    When other countries have a problem they appoint committee of experts, formulate solutions and act on them. Once in the UK, the British Parliament could not sit because of the stench emanating fro river Thames. They suspended the sittings, appointed a committee of experts and asked them to come forward with a solution. They studied the problem and gave the solution. That was to reduce the BOD5 of the water in the river. And their method worked. So the term BOD5 was coined and the whole world uses that term in wastewater treatment to this day. Actually the 5 denotes the number of days the dirt in the river Thames take from the extreme end to come to the parliament area. However in our country when experts or who ever gives a report after a painstaking exercise our politicos send the thing to archives ( or hamaspettiya for good).

  8. Ananda-USA Says:

    Aloy, I sysmpathize with your frustration. A complete solution with firm enforcement is what is needed, but that must await Gota to take control of the helm of the country. Without ability, courage to take decisions, and implement them to completion NOTHING, no matter how TECHNOLOGICALLY well founded will work.

    WE NEED ADMINISTRATIVE COMPETENCE backed by DEDICATED PATRIOTISM … and Gota has it, and has DEMONSTRATED that in EVERYTHING he has been given RESPONSIBILITY and AUTHORITY for.

    Yes, BOD is a standard term in the remediation of bodies of water clogged with biowaste of plant and human origin. Bubbling air through the water is a standard practice. Getting the water to flow by clearing the obstructions and excessive mud and silt would help too.

    However, a small start …. even as an election gimmick is OK, as long as it is CONTINUED and EXPANDED in scope under a more CAPABLE and DEDICATED ADMINISTRATION!

    Hopefully, Gota will bring in more technically qualified honest folks in the future to restore the Canals and Waterways in our country in a way that would not only contribute to improving the quality of life of all citizens, but also contribute to a resurgent national economy in novel ways.

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