By Shabiya Ali Ahlam
The Easter Sunday bombings are posing newer challenges to Sri Lanka’s construction industry which is now expecting a negative growth this year, as blanket control approaches adopted by authorities following the attacks are said to be worsening hardships experienced by the sector.
In the wake of the terror attacks on April 21, the government has taken the decision to suspend the supply of explosives for commercial purposes including quarrying, which has led some construction sites to halt work.
“The supply of explosives for quarrying has stopped completely. Crusher operators have complained to us that the stock has run out and they are unable to carry out any work going forward,” Chamber of Construction Industries (CCI) Secretary General/CEO Nissanka N. Wijeratne told Mirror Business.
He noted that while it is understandable to be cautious given the current situation in the country, the government needs to come out with a system with regard to the supply of commercial explosives so that industrial work is not impacted.
Wijeratne pointed out that even during the height of the war with the LTTE, commercial explosives were made available under strict monitoring where a request would have to be made to the authorities in writing beforehand and the blasting would take place in the presence of armed forces.
“We understand that there is a situation at hand and that unwanted parties want to get their hands on such elements and we don’t want that. But a system is necessary.We have to be cautious but we need to get things going. The government has to take some measures to promote development and keep it going. They need to be more proactive in their efforts,” Wijeratne said. Currently, in terms of the Provisions of the Explosives Ordinance No. 21 of 1956, Secretary to the Ministry of Public Security, Law and Order functions as the Controller of Explosives.
While one Deputy Controller of Explosives attached to the Ministry of Public Security, Law and Order performs duties under him, ten Assistant Controllers of Explosives are attached to District Secretariats throughout the country.
According to the Ministry of Defense, all the permits and licenses issued for the use of commercial explosives in the quarry, firework and matchbox industries are controlled and monitored in liaison with the District Secretaries or Government Agents.
Until the attacks took place, commercial explosives required for the above industries were issued without any shortages.