(Right) President Mahinda Rajapaksa unveiling the plaque marking the opening of BoC-sponsored Jaffna Railway station and (left) doing the first transaction on the BoC ATM in the presence of BOC Chairman Air Chief Marshal Harsha Abeywickrama and General Manager D.M. Gunasekara
After 23-long years of absence from the railways the famous ‘Yal Devi’, the legendary train that linked Jaffna with Colombo, returned to her home station-Jaffna railway station on October 13, 2014 bringing President Mahinda Rajapakse and Transport Minister Kumara Welgama.
With the arrival of the Yal Devi the president ceremonially opened the Jaffna railway station for operations. This historic moment signifies the recommencement of the railway operations from Jaffna and the re-establishment of the bonds between the North and the rest of the country which had been under pressure during the three decades of war.
The president also declared open the ATM that Bank of Ceylon (BoC) had installed on the station premises for the convenience of all those who would be using the station. BoC Chairman Air Chief Marshal Harsha Abeywickrema, members of the BoC Board of Directors and General Manager D.M. Gunasekera were among the distinguished guests who participated in this occasion. BoC joined with the Sri Lanka Railways as a partner by making a significant investment in building the Jaffna railway station as a corporate social responsible activity of the bank.
BoC, being Bankers to Nation has always been with the people of the country since its establishment in 1939. BoC has been in the forefront in providing banking and financial services to northerners with the opening of BoC Jaffna branch in 1945.
At the time of peril in 2009 the BoC management and the staff of the bank made an extraordinary contribution in re-establishing normalcy within the region by expanding its branch network in the north. Being aligned with the government’s north development programme ‘Uthuru Wasanthaya’, BoC introduced a unique set of very special small and medium enterprise (SME) projects- Awakening North in rebuilding the lives of northern people. With the success of the phase I, the bank has now moved into the Phase II of these projects while enjoying the simple pleasure of seeing northerners benefiting from the banks’ initiatives.
Currently, BoC covers the Northern Province with 60 branches and eight other service points connected online with all other branches in the country and customers enjoy all banking and financial facilities that are available in other parts of the country. In BoC’s consistence effort to contribute to the growth of the region, the bank has provided substantial support to develop local schools, libraries and public hospitals during the past couple of years. Through its number of CSR activities and the excellent banking service BoC has become the closest partner of the people of Northern Province.
BoC earned global recognition as one of the top 1000 banks in the world, as listed by The Banker Magazine (UK) respectively in 2012, 2013 and 2014. The bank claimed its award as the only Sri Lankan brand recognized as one of Asia’s Best Brands in 2013 by the Chief Marketing Officer’s Council (CMO Council) based in Mumbai, India. Brand Finance Lanka ranked Bank of Ceylon as the No.1 Brand in Sri Lanka for the last six consecutive years. BoC recorded yet another hat-trick in 2013 at the National Business Excellence awards ceremony organised by the National Chamber of Commerce.
Focusing on the bank’s achievement, Fitch Rating Lanka ranked BoC at AA+ (lka), which is the highest rating awarded to a local commercial bank. BoC is also the only Sri Lankan bank with an international presence, with branches in Chennai, Male, Seychelles and a subsidiary in London.