Request for boat service turned down

[TamilNet, Friday, 03 April 1998, 23:59 GMT]
The secretary to the Sri Lankan President Mr. K. Balapatabendi turned down a suggestion by the PLOTE deputy leader to begin a passenger boat service to Jaffna from Mannar on the grounds that the A9 highway from Vavuniya to the peninsula would be opened soon at a conference this afternoon to discuss the security related problems of fisheries in Jaffna.

SLA commander Lt. Gen. Rohan Daluwatte, Jaffna security forces GOC Maj.Gen. Lionel Balagalle, Deputy Inspector General of Police for Jaffna, EPRLF leader Suresh Premachandran (who is also advisor to the fisheries dept.), EPDP spokesman S.Thavarajah, TULF leader Mr. M. Sivasithamparam, the head of the Northern Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Authority and representatives of the Navy and fisheries Department were also present at the conference which began at 3 a.m. at the Presidential secretariat which is in the old parliament building in downtown Colombo.

Manikkam Daasan asked the government to begin a weekly boat service from Mannar to Pungudutheevu. Mr. M. Sivasithamparam had suggested that the wheat flour given to fishermen as part of a relief package should be replaced with rice.

To this Manikkam Daasan retorted that the problem facing Jaffna fishermen is not flour but their livelihood. The government also rejected a suggestion that fishermen be permitted to use fibre glass rafts on the ground that the material required to make them could go to the Liberation Tigers when they are shipped in large quantities to meet the demand.

The government also informed the Tamil parties that the fishing hours in the seas off the Pt. Pedro coast have to remain very restricted as air traffic over this area begins by 6.30 a.m. in the morning everyday except on Sundays. (the SLA says that some of its aircraft and helicopters were shot down by Tigers operating in the northern seas).


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