Saudi relief still idling in Colombo Port
By Munza Mushtaq

Apr 28 (IL) While the International Community continues to send essential items and other necessities for the tsunami victims, our own Colombo Port authorities and Finance Ministry allegedly treat essential relief consignments sent by foreign Governments, organizations, etc, with callous indifference, informed sources claimed yesterday.

In one such incident, the Saudi Government and other Saudi officials reportedly at their own expense dispatched 46 container loads of essential items to Sri Lankan tsunami victims during the first week of April, had suffered neglect at the hands of Port authorities.

The clearance of this consignment of humanitarian relief was inordinate by delay when certain officials of the Colombo Port and the e Ministry refused to release them. So far only some 15 of these containers have been released, and this too after the Saudi benefactors offered to pay customs clearing charges. Meanwhile, the consignee had to pay demurrage charges brought about by the roadblocks erected by the Air Force personnel who are deployed by authorities to ensure 100% percent checking of all relief containers

According to the sources, delaying tactics were employed by the authorities although the Saudi Embassy Officials in Colombo completed the stipulated procedures for clearance of the shipment. The Embassy had also made repeated requests for clearance from the Finance Ministry. But on April 22, a letter from the by the Director General, Fiscal Policy of the Finance Ministry notified that the shipment concerned was not DPL Cargo, and would hence was subject to routine clearance procedure.

Its a tragic situation. Still 30 containers are at the Port awaiting clearance, even after many weeks, since the consignment arrived, sources claimed.