Country needs threat level indicators, risk assessment based plan- De Alwis | Daily News

Country needs threat level indicators, risk assessment based plan- De Alwis

Gayani De Alwis
Gayani De Alwis

The country needs threat level indicators and risk assessment based plans which will help elevate institutions to different resilient levels. Though in the short term it may cost money in the long term it would pay back, Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) Chairperson Gayani De Alwis said.

She said Sri Lanka is predominantly a service economy contributing 56.7% to the GDP according to a recent Central Bank annual report. This indicates a significant dependence on services for economic growth. In view of this, the negative impact has to be high for the economy.

Logistics industry is considered to contribute 10.6 % to GDP. It is inevitable that after the Easter Sunday bombings the industry to face significant impact though definitely the impacts are not permanent. As 9/11 changed United States and the world, 4/21 in Sri Lanka is sure to make some long term changes to the society and economy. It is important that lessons are internalized and no more mistakes are made. As a country we cannot have these sudden negative impacts due to the low resilience of our economy.

The problem was aggravated as these attacks happened soon after the New Year holidays where most employees in the country were away in their hometowns and their return to work was hampered until the situation became somewhat stable. With no people to work, with an unsteady movement of goods, services and people, operations were disrupted. Terrorists strike on targets where there will be bigger impact to the economy. The government had to tighten security to safeguard ports and airports as impacts to those locations will be detrimental to a service oriented economy like ours. Heightened security measures slowed down the movement further at all entry points to the country at the ports, airports etc., slowing down the supply chain. Supply chain are going to be adversely impacted till counter measures are embedded which definitely requires additional investments.

In the aftermath of the incident SLPA engaged with all stakeholders who use the port facilities and the chamber representatives to understand the concerns and to communicate the measures taken to mitigate the risk. A 24 hour cargo cut off time for exports, introducing a shuttle service from the operations office at JCT to all along side berths with immediate effect to minimise traffic in the yard and along side were some of the interventions put in place to ensure safety and security of the port operations..

In addition security forces have intensified the security checks in and around the port access roads and also at airports, which will have delays in both cargo and passenger movements. But what ever we do we must not inconvenience the users but to do it with care and keep them fully aware. Definitely more technology integrations are called for.

There was a lapse in security and government did not take action proactively on intelligence news, but in most disaster situations, especially with this one which came totally out of the blues, the most important thing is to give confidence to the local and international community that we are fully in control of the situation with clear interventions. We have to have one coordinated plan and get all stakeholders buy-in so that every one will speak with one voice.

Government must involve the industry when implementing interventions as it can affect the businesses and seek their view, get all of them fully onboard including the civil society. They cannot fight this battle alone! Business continuity planning and risk management is a must.

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