Despite the assurance given by the government that a fuel concession would be given to them in the wake of the fuel price hike, the fishermen in the coastal areas have decided to take to the streets immediately.
Some fishermen have opted for immediate action and held a protest along the Palangaturi coast yesterday. However National Fishermen Solidarity Movement Convener Herman Kumara told the Daily Mirror that Fishermen would hold protests in Kalpitiya, Mahawera, Marawilla and Negombo today.
Kumara said the decision to increase a litre of diesel by Rs.31 and kerosene by Rs.35 was a hefty blow for the industry as the livelihood of small scale fishermen would come to a standstill by this move. He said the daily fuel expenses of a fisherman would go up by Rs.1,500 as a result of the price hike. Kumara said the daily fuel cost which was Rs.3,000 had arisen to Rs.4,500 after the price hike.
He predicted that the price of fish will also go up in price but the middlemen would be the ultimate winner out of this situation. This he said because they will be able to earn a greater margin.
However the Fishermen refrained from blaming the Minister of Fisheries Dr. Rajitha Senaratne for the price hike. “We are aware that the minister had nothing to do with the price hike as the decision was made by the treasury,” Mr. Kumara said.
Deputy Minister Sarath Kumara Gunaratne who had briefed President Mahinda Rajajapksa of the situation said the latter had assured a concession for the fishermen.
Meanwhile Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith had also intervened to defuse the situation and had requested the government to think of the fishermen and help them carry out their livelihood. The Cardinal had made this appeal during a discussion he had with Deputy Minister Gunaratne.
Voicing his opinion on the matter UNP MP Joseph Michael Perera said the concession should be given to the fishermen immediately as the fishermen had been badly hit by the price hike. He said the owners of small boats are affected by the Kerosene price hike while the multi day trawlers are affected by the increased diesel prices. “The Government should be genuine with the promised concession as similar assurances given in the past had not been implemented,” he said. (Yohan Perera)