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Colombo Port in doldrums as corona catches up with customs officials. 40 customs officials to be put on quarantine

Cargo handling operations in Colombo Port has been completely restricterd to perishable goods, sugar, cement and fertilisers since October 23 rd as two customs officials handling containers were declared corona positive and forty others sent for quarantine as a preventive measure according to Sri Lankan media reports

The public and industrialists are requested to cooperate during this difficult time

On the instructions of its Director-General Maj. Gen. (Rtd.) Vijitha Ravipriya, the Customs has decided to carry out only the essential services like clearing perishable food items, medicine and other essential goods such as sugar, cement and fertilizer. The public and industrialists are requested to cooperate during this difficult time by arriving only to clear essential goods and not items with secondary importance.

Ironically it is the armed forces and not public health authorities who have been officially designated by the Rajapakshe government to tackle the pandemic since its outbreak earlty this year. Chief of the Srilankan army staff is the commander of the operations.

Unaccompanied Passenger Baggage (UPB) clearing yards closed

Meanwhile, the Customs yesterday ordered to close all its Unaccompanied Passenger Baggage (UPB) clearing yards including Trico and Laksiri Seva indefinitely, as the regular passenger movement to clear these items are of high risk considering the prevailing situation.

Sri Lanka Customs requested public cooperation in clearing only the essential goods to minimize unnecessary congestion at the Colombo Port since two of their Inspectors were found positive with Covid-19 yesterday and another 40 to be sent for quarantine.

Customs Spokesman Sunil Jayaratne said two Customs Inspectors stationed at the New Container Gate (NCG), which is the main entrance to the Port for container trucks located on the Port Access Road linking Ingurukade Junction and the Port, were found positive on October 22nd following PCR tests.

25 other Customs and Port staff sent for quarantine and next 15 more

Mr. Jayaratne said the two Inspectors had been sent to Kosgama Quarantine Centre and their condition was known to be out of danger. However, 25 other Customs and Port staff members who were performing duties in the vicinity had also been sent for quarantine, whilst another 15 such officials are to be sent in due course.

To fill this staff shortage, additional Customs personnel from different directorates had been deployed at the New Container Gate of the port to have a smooth operation.

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