Cabinet approval to be sought for compensation to families | Daily News


CPC-CEB tug of war on pipeline repairs

Cabinet approval to be sought for compensation to families

Cabinet approval is to be sought today to provide compensation for 419 families from Colombo North, who are said to be living precariously in the vicinity of dilapidated fuel pipelines that are being repaired.

Ceylon Petroleum Unions (CPC) threatened to halt supply of oil to the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) if renovations on the pipeline are halted, which affects the people living in the area.

“CPC trade union action has been successful, as it has prompted the Cabinet to reach consensus today so that we may continue replacement of the fuel pipeline, a section of 140 metres,” Treasurer of the Executive Officers Union of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation Eng. Manu Jayawardene said. “We have been promised a meeting tomorrow (3).However, if we are not satisfied we will initiate strike action on 5th (Friday) and stop supply of oil to the Ceylon Electricity Board.” Eng. Jayawardene said that they held meetings with the subject Minister Kabir Hashim who mentioned that he had communicated the matter to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

A ministerial committee was appointed yesterday comprising of Ministers Patali Champika Ranawaka, Ravi Karunanayake, Kabir Hashim and Mangala Samaraweera to deliberate on an appropriate compensation. The CPC unions have been informed in writing that Cabinet would take a decision on the matter today.

On Monday, CPC unions threatened to halt supply of oil to the Ceylon Electricity Board due to obstructions on repairs on 75-year-old dilapidated pipeline which runs through Colombo North. The unions alleged that Minister of Energy and Business Development Ravi Karunanayake was obstructing work until the dwellers in the area could be offered alternative housing arrangements or compensation, citing that it was his electorate.

“This is an internal matter which the ministry needs to resolve,” Minister Ravi Karunanayke told the Daily News. “If they want these residents to move, they must first offer alternate housing arrangements.”

“The work on the oil pipeline was suspended last Tuesday when squatters in Meetotamulla, Bloemendhal and Mahawatta protested demanding compensation, which is when Minister Karunanayke said that work should be halted until these families are offered compensation,” said Jayawardene. “We commenced work under Army protection and have only 140 meters more to complete, which would take only a few more days at most.” Jayawardene cautioned that the dilapidated pipelines needs to be repaired urgently as it will put many residents in danger should there be a burst of even 10 inches. He emphasized that those who have halted work should also bear responsibility should there be such a catastrophe. Meanwhile, Ceylon Electricity Board unions say they will have to enforce immediate power outages if the CPC decides to halt supply of fuel. “We will have no choice but to enforce immediate power outages across the country,” Malaka Wickremasinghe, CEB Workers Union Chairman said adding that the CPC was loosing millions annually due to leakages as well as fees in delay unloading. “We have not been informed of their decision yet but are keeping a close watch.” The Daily News is in receipt of letters that was sent from Colombo Municipal Commissioner to Ministry Petroleum Resources Development Secretary Upali Marasinghe on July 26 last year that there were concerns over the wellbeing of the shanty dwellers in the Colombo North region. In her letter she mentions that 419 families are at grave risk if the fuel pipelines should burst at any point and that they need to be relocated.

She refers to discussions which were held and cites that the families would be relocated in three stages, with the first being 20 families who are at imminent danger, 110 families in the second stage and 289 in the third stage. She also suggests that the program be held under the patronage of Minister Ravi Karunanayake under whose electorate this part of Colombo falls under.

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