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Low turnout of Wharf clerks from isolated areas Drastically affects import clearances at Colombo Port

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November 11, 2020: A significantly low turnout of wharf clerks from a range of isolated areas in Colombo and its suburbs had drastically affected the regular import cargo clearance process at the Colombo Port since yesterday, Sri Lanka Customs said.

A senior official at the Customs told the Daily Mirror that the turnout of wharf clerks to duties yesterday with the lifting of the quarantine curfew in the Western Province was very poor and as a result the clearance of import cargo had been significantly affected.
Additional Director General of Customs and its Spokesperson Sunil Jayaratne said from over 400,000 wharf clerks in the country about 75% had not reported to work as they were not being allowed to come out of the new isolated areas in 25 police areas in Colombo, Gampaha and Kalutara districts and about 12 police areas in Colombo City itself.
“In Sri Lanka an average of 1,200 import containers are cleared on a regular day and up to 2,500 containers are cleared on a day in the year end festive period usually starting from the month of November. But yesterday less than 1,000 containers had been cleared from the port,” he said.
On a regular day usually 500 to 600 containers are exported from the Colombo port but only 210 containers had been sent yesterday, whereas 545 containers had been exported on Sunday.

The official said that although the quarantine curfew was in place for the entire Western Province during the last ten days, the turnout of the wharf clerks was as usual as they had the opportunity to report to work on their personal vehicle or motorcycle producing identification of performing essential service.
However, when a new set of isolated areas was announced to remain in place indefinitely since Monday (09), most of the wharf clerks had failed to report for duty yesterday, the official said.

Nevertheless, priority had been given to the clearance of cargo pertaining to the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka and other imported material. Essential food commodities like onion, potatoes, sugar with garments, cosmetics, etc. top a main portion of the country’s daily imports, whereas ready-made garments, tea, spices and specialised local food for Sri Lankan expats living abroad are the main exports.

Source: Daily Mirror

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