Govt mulls alternative land route to Jaffna
To facilitate civilian movement:
COLOMBO: Government Defence Affairs Spokesman Minister Keheliya
Rambukwella said yesterday that the Government was seriously considering
an alternative land route for civilian movement to Jaffna since there is
no possibility of re-opening the A-9 road under present conditions.
He said the Government, for two reasons, has not given consent for
the opening of the A-9 road from Omanthai and Muhamalai despite repeated
requests by the LTTE through the Norwegian facilitators and the Sri
Lanka Monitoring Mission.
"First, we are concerned about the safety of the civilians due to
crossfire between the Security Forces and the LTTE in Muhamalai," the
"Second, the Government is also concerned about the extortion by the
LTTE of people using the A-9 road at Muhamalai and Omanthai entry exit
points," Rambukwella added.
According to reports the LTTE is losing millions of rupees per day
due to the closure of the A-9 road. It was exerting more international
pressure on the Government to open the road citing the plight of the
civilians in the peninsula.
"The LTTE is not concerned about the plight of the civilians but is
only concerned about the money they are losing due to the closure of the
A-9 road," the Minister said.
He said any decision to open the A-9 road will be based on providing
a security guarantee for the civilians using the A-9 road and the
immediate termination of LTTE extortion of the road users.
"Due to this reason the Government is seriously considering opening a
new land route via Mannar - Sanguppidy road to facilitate the free flow
of goods and other essential items to Jaffna and Kilinochchi,"
The proposed route connects to the A-9 road from Paranthan junction
and also links to Jaffna via the Kilaly lagoon.
He, however, said despite the closure of the A-9 road the Essential
Services Commissioner has made arrangements to transport 13,600 metric
tonnes of foods and essential items to Jaffna peninsula by sea.
Apart from this the Navy has also made arrangements to transport
civilians by ship from Jaffna to Trincomalee.