Even if the ill-fated MV X-Press Pearl did not reveal the goods it was carrying before reaching Sri Lankan waters, the responsibility still lies with the Government for failing to ensure that the ship complies with international laws, claimed JVP Propaganda Secretary Vijitha Herath.
Expressing his views at a press conference yesterday (2), he stated the ship has caused significant damage to marine life and caused great distress to fishermen in the island.
Now, the Government is attempting to move the ship further out to sea and it is too late, Herath said and argued that the ship should have been stopped from entering Sri Lankan waters.
He noted there are certain international rules that state a ship entering a zone must declare its contents and staff details. If a similar disaster occurs in the future, the Government can use the same excuse then as well, Herath pointed out. If the Government knowingly let this ship in, despite it being rejected by other foreign ports, then it is a serious mistake, Herath charged.
The concept of national security has been let go by the Government, he went on to say. The relevant ministers had a responsibility to find out information regarding any ships that enter Sri Lankan waters and to ensure that these ships follow the law, he asserted.
Additionally, the Government has still not revealed the exact contents of the ship to the public, even after several days, charged Vijitha Herath. Substances such as Nitric acid and Mercury can have drastic effects on marine life, claimed Herath.
He said that when importing fish, many European countries inspect the level of mercury in the fish, as it is a poisonous substance. Therefore, he worried that this may cause issues when it comes to exporting Sri Lankan fish. Herath also said that fishermen in Negombo are finding it difficult to sell their fish as people are afraid it may contain poisonous substances.
He urged the Government to conduct a scientific analysis of the fish and show the public the truth regarding the safety of the fish. The Government’s solution to this entire problem is to provide Rs 5,000 to fisherman affected by the fire. However, the impacts of this can have long lasting consequences for the careers of the fisherman, Herath said.
Those working in the entire industry, such as those who transport and trade fish, are also affected, Herath pointed out. He urged the Government to provide a fair compensation to all affected by this disaster and to invest in resources to prevent such disasters in the future, without having to rely on foreign countries.
(Source: Ceylon Today – By Treshan Fernando)