Thu, 25 Apr 2024 Today's Paper

End of the road for asphalt producing plants in Kalahagala, Polonnaruwa

25 July 2022 12:01 am - 2     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

A A A

Vehicles which are rotting inside the factory premises

 

  • There is a powerful politician behind the decision taken to shut down a state run asphalt plant and open a new plant
  • The politician mentioned in this article is said to have earned money through the CECB development activities in Polonnaruwa
  • As development activities came to a halt around 300 people lost employment

 

It is the normal practice to cast aside tools used for a development activity at the end of the project. Especially machinery and vehicles can be found abandoned after taking the maximum use of them. Even though they can be reused they are still discarded after being labelled as useless. Such unattended vehicles of major projects in Sri Lanka can be seen in the form of junk rusting. According to project agreements these vehicles cannot be legally used elsewhere. However these vehicles and machinery- brought for certain projects- can still be used. Instead of leaving them to decay they can be reused as Sri Lanka is a developing country.

The Kantale Sugar Factory provides a perfect example of such negligence. Some of its vehicles were used for the war or were taken discreetly instead of giving them to state institutions. The authorities back then didn’t even try to use them at sugar factories in Pelwatte or Sevanagala. At present vehicles worth millions of rupees have become heaps of rusting iron. Similarly, many more vehicles of other projects are left to decay.


This is the state of Sri Lanka. The sight of such vehicles makes one question with sadness as to whether these vehicles don’t belong to the state? Recently a state institution in Polonnaruwa was much talked about in the lines of wastage. It is an asphalt manufacturing plant of the Central Engineering Consultancy Bureau (CECB). It is a state affiliated enterprise. The plant located in Kalahagala in Polonnaruwa has now shut down. According to the people in Polonnaruwa its machinery and vehicles have fallen into decay. “State property is being destroyed and the authorities have turned a blind eye to this issue. Machinery costing millions of rupees and vehicles attached to the plant are let to decay,” people in the area said.


What’s hilarious is that after the change of presidents and governments more and more asphalt plants are being opened. This plant was opened when there was a similar plant in the same location which belonged to the State Development and Construction Corporation (SD&CC). It was established in 2011 with the support of China when Mahinda Rajapaksa was the President. However his successor- President Maithripala Sirisena- closed down that plant and took steps to open a new plant in 2017 under the “Pibidemu Polonnaruwa” project to develop roads.  

 

Asphalt machinery in Kalahagala, Polonnaruwa was not used for a long period. These days motors and other equipment of those machines are taken to Bopitiya mechanical yard for repairs. We placed security personnel to manage the plant in Kalahagala. It is not left to decay.
- D. A. P. Damayanti Deputy General Manager of the SD&CC 

 

Another factory in the state of ruin

 

Various excuses 

An employee of the plant said that the previous plant was closed down with the defeat of Mahinda Rajapaksa in 2015. This employee said that it was also a plant which had affiliations with the state. 
“The CECB then installed an asphalt manufacturing machine brought from Buttala 200 metres away from the old plant. This plant is  located in a private land and a monthly payment is still being made for maintaining this facility. This machine is a used one and it worked until recently. Now both plants are not operating. Machines and vehicles of the plants are left to deteriorate. The ownership of the newly built plant is semi-government. From what I have heard there is a powerful politician behind the decision taken to shut down a state run asphalt plant and open a new plant. This plant was built to cater to his needs. Since the CECB is a semi-government institution it earns a revenue from the profit received through construction and development activities. The politician mentioned in this article is said to have earned money through the CECB development activities in Polonnaruwa. Several people earned profits through a semi-government institution with the placement of the new machinery. This was done without any attempt to put the old one into working order. Millions of rupees were spent to install the machinery. The old plant was established because bringing asphalt from far away places was costly. But the second one was established for underhand dealings and clearly not for development activities in Polonnaruwa. When the new Government resurfaced it started  laying another carpet on already carpeted roads. These questionable new activities were carried out while loans obtained to put the initial carpet were still being paid off. The whole episode  was just another waste of money. The two plants manufacturing asphalt are now left to be taken over by the jungle. 


“Now there are two asphalt manufacturing plants in the same Grama Niladhari Division of the same village. Both are closed down and billions of state funds have been wasted.” the emplyee working at the plant added.
Nobody seems to care about the destruction of state property. The authorities have various excuses as to why these machines are left to decay. Some of them can be justified, but some excuses are just made-up as everyone is talking about these issues. The authorities should look into them to find out the truth.


When inquired, CECB Additional General Manager Anura Semasinghe said that the plant mentioned is not closed. “As road development activities are no longer carried out, the place is temporarily closed. Not only the plant which is being mentioned every other plant manufacturing asphalt in Sri Lanka is closed. This was initiated in 2011. Basil Rajapaksa brought 20-30 machines from China for road and other development activities. They were distributed among state affiliated institutions. Back then road development activities were properly carried out and asphalt was manufactured. These machines do not operate daily as soap manufacturing machines or millers. Some people vaguely make accusations of machines being left to decay without understanding these facts,” said Semasinghe. 

 

As road development activities are no longer carried out, the place is temporarily closed. Not only the plant which is being mentioned every other plant manufacturing asphalt in Sri Lanka is closed. This was initiated in 2011. Basil Rajapaksa brought 20-30 machines from China for road and other development activities.
- Anura Semasinghe CECB Additional General Manager 

 

A machine used to carpet the road is seen discarded

 


“The machine installed at Kalahagala in Polonnaruwa was first brought to Buttala in 2012. It is 2022 now. 10 years have passed. Those machines have worn out. The warantee period for the machines has ended. The said machine was in Moneragala for the purpose of constructing roads in Buttala. Those activities were halted when the government changed back then and development activities began in Polonnaruwa. Therefore the machinery in Buttala was brought and installed at Kalahagala. A plant belonging to the SD&CC is there. As we cannot operate that, we brought the machine in Buttala to commence the development activities. Around 300 kilometres were carpeted and developed using that plant. Thereafter we did not receive any more road projects. So we halted our tasks. These activities require tar, diesel, and clinkers. 12 litres of diesel and 50 kilograms of tar are required to manufacture a ton of asphalt. 500 tons of asphalt are required for one kilometre. If there are no roads to carpet then we cannot manufacture asphalt. We placed a security personnel and cleared the area monthly and checked the machines. These plants are left to lie as they are. If we receive another project we could commence manufacturing asphalt. We have no funds to paint those decaying machines. As development activities came to a halt around 300 people lost employment. The Government does not pay our salaries. Even though we are a state affiliated institution the Treasury does not pay our salaries. We get salaries from the profits we obtain from the revenue of government projects. With the ongoing crisis we do not get overtime or incentives. Given this situation we cannot maintain the plant. We have no funds to paint the machines. We check them regularly and protect them using a security official. That is all we can do. The machines are still working and we have not let them to decay,” he added.


“Those vehicles are the ones brought during the construction of Randenigala and Victoria reservoirs. They cannot be used now. We have planned to auction them,” he also said.
Deputy General Manager of the SD&CC D. A. P. Damayanti said that the plant is not left to decay. “Asphalt machinery in Kalahagala, Polonnaruwa was not used for a long period. These days motors and other equipment of those machines are taken to Bopitiya mechanical yard for repairs. We placed security personnel to manage the plant in Kalahagala. It is not left to decay. We are yet to receive funds for our government projects. Therefore we do not have funds to purchase accessories even to repair these machines. Our projects have come to a halt. The problem is not with any action taken by any government to close down or open new plants. The plant has not operated since 2014. It worked fine until then,” Damayanti added.
SD&CC Mechanical Engineer K. K. Kulathilaka said that the asphalt plant had shut down after 2014. “It was not used after 2014. Then we were asked to operate the plant. But as it was not operated for a long time, it is hard to operate the machines. Extra parts are taken to Bopitiya yard for repairs. This began to operate in 2011 and worked fine until 2014. We do not know why it was closed. If we get work tomorrow we could manufacture asphalt from the plant in Kalahagala,” he added. 

 

It was not used after 2014. Then we were asked to operate the plant. But as it was not operated for a long time, it is hard to operate the machines. Extra parts are taken to Bopitiya yard for repairs.
- K. K. Kulathilaka SD&CC Mechanical Engineer  

 

A factory which used to produce asphalt is seen in a defunct state


Order Gifts and Flowers to Sri Lanka. See Kapruka's top selling online shopping categories such as Toys, Grocery, Kids Toys, Birthday Cakes, Fruits, Chocolates, Clothing and Electronics. Also see Kapruka's unique online services such as Money Remittence,Astrology, Courier/Delivery, Medicine Delivery and over 700 top brands. Also get products from Amazon & Ebay via Kapruka Gloabal Shop into Sri Lanka

  Comments - 2

Order Gifts and Flowers to Sri Lanka. See Kapruka's top selling online shopping categories such as Toys, Grocery, Kids Toys, Birthday Cakes, Fruits, Chocolates, Clothing and Electronics. Also see Kapruka's unique online services such as Money Remittence,Astrology, Courier/Delivery, Medicine Delivery and over 700 top brands. Also get products from Amazon & Ebay via Kapruka Gloabal Shop into Sri Lanka
  • goonbag Tuesday, 02 August 2022 01:22 PM

    high time they started to sell most state-owned enterprises, unfortunately they lead to waste as the article has pointed out

    Heawage Saman Saturday, 13 August 2022 08:07 AM

    This is what has happened to this country. We bring the equipment and machinery on loan, and abounded them with political decisions. Ultimately, people of the country will have to pay for the loans.


Add comment

Comments will be edited (grammar, spelling and slang) and authorized at the discretion of Daily Mirror online. The website also has the right not to publish selected comments.

Reply To:

Name - Reply Comment




Order Gifts and Flowers to Sri Lanka. See Kapruka's top selling online shopping categories such as Toys, Grocery, Kids Toys, Birthday Cakes, Fruits, Chocolates, Clothing and Electronics. Also see Kapruka's unique online services such as Money Remittence,Astrology, Courier/Delivery, Medicine Delivery and over 700 top brands. Also get products from Amazon & Ebay via Kapruka Gloabal Shop into Sri Lanka