Oluvil harbour to reopen soon | Daily News


Oluvil harbour to reopen soon

targets USD 400 mn fish export revenue
The Rs. 6 billion Oluvil harbour was forced to shut down for three years due to sand dunes at the entrance. Picture by Saliya Rupasinghe
The Rs. 6 billion Oluvil harbour was forced to shut down for three years due to sand dunes at the entrance. Picture by Saliya Rupasinghe

One of the largest sea food exporters in Sri Lanka TESS Group has come forward to start operations in the abandoned Oluvil Fisheries Harbour said Chairman of Ministries sectaries’ Union, Keerthi Sri Weerasinghe.

Weerasinghe said that the TESS Group will first clear the sand dunes helping the opening of the now defunct harbour. They will then operate the fish processing plant which was never used to date. “It’s ironic to note that TESS was one of the contractors of the Rs. 16 billion Danish funded Oluvil Harbour project. It was initiated by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa in 2008 as a part of the Nagenahira Navodaya Development Program and now TESS haa come forward to help open this harbor.”

Weerasinghe said that collecting of sand dunes in harbours is a natural phenomena but the previous government did not bother to clean them resulting in the closure of the harbour. “This resulted in the loss of over 25,000 livelihoods and around 200 fishing vessels were stuck in the harbour. Requests made to the Port Authority to remove the sand dune were to no avail and the fishing community hired lorries and tractors to take the fishing vessels from the Oluvil Fisheries.

He thanked both ‘Sunday Observer’ and ‘Daily News’ for first highlighting the closure of the harbour and pointing out the economic loss from it. “Subsequent to this exposure President has expressed keenness to re commence the harbour and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has appointed a committee to expedite the re opening.

“Subsequently both Fisheries and Port and Shipping Ministers Douglas Devananda and Johnston Fernando had instructed their authorities to speed up the opening of the harbour and this was how TESS Group came forward.”

The Geological Survey and Mines Bureau officials also visited the harbour and have suggested building a Breakwater. “This would be done by the Coast Conservation Department.

Weerasinghe said that the former Shipping Minister after a visit to the Oluvil Harbour, had said that it was a white elephant. “But he was wrong.” With the EU fish ban taken off, an international shipping route just 10 km away and international standard Fish Processing Plant with generators, chilling and storage facilities still functional, Oluvil Harbour when operational again can bring in annual USD 400 million fish exports revenue.

CEO and Director of TESS Group of Companies, Shiran Fernando said that they are keen to get involved in the opening of the Oluvil harbour and having one of their plants in it since they see tremendous potential in fish processing and exporting.

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