If “Hippo Spirit” Vessel docks in Colombo after it has been denied entry into the Port and tries to unload the consignment of Chinese organic fertilizer that has been Rejected it would be considered as some sort of terrorist act says Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture Prof. Udith Jayasinghe.


By

Ruwani Fonseka

If the Hippo Spirit vessel docks in Sri Lanka after it has been denied entry into the Port and tries to unload the consignment of Chinese organic fertiliser, it would be considered as some sort of terrorist act, says Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture Prof. Udith Jayasinghe.

He made this statement while speaking exclusively to The Morning today (02).

“The consignment has been rejected, and the fertiliser will not be tested for the third time. If this is the case, the Director General has to inform us first, and that has not been done either. Now that it is rejected, we will not change our decision. If the ship comes by force into Sri Lankan waters, and tries to unload, which is highly doubtful, that would be considered an act of terrorism,” said Prof. Jayasinghe.
The Morning also spoke to Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) Harbour Master Capt. Indika De Silva who confirmed that the Hippo Spirit vessel has been “loitering” around the commercial merchant waters, but would not be considered technically as a breach into Sri Lankan waters until it is 12 nautical miles from the coastline of Sri Lanka.

“Any ship can pass by or cross international waters without any issues, whereas this Hippo Spirit vessel has been loitering around for a while now. The Navy’s duty is to protect the country, and ensure no harm is done to marine life, which we see nothing done so far. If the vessel wants to loiter around, we cannot stop them. But, as of now, the vessel has not been given permission to dock in Sri Lanka,” said Capt. Indika De Silva.
Additionally, Capt. Indika said that he was quite surprised that the exact location of the vessel has been reported, whereas that would only be possible if the vessel transmits a signal which can be located.

“I’m highly doubtful that the location of the vessel has been measured to accuracy. This is not possible as the ship had stopped transmitting signals on the 14th of October while it was in the Malacca strait. So if the Automatic Identification System (AIS) is not functional, I assume the figures would be incorrect as well,” Capt. Indika said.

He also detailed that in case the vessel requires humanitarian aid, transactions can be made off the coast of Galle.
He made this statement when inquired by The Morning if in case the vessel was allowed to enter the Colombo Port using humanitarian reasons or re-fueling as an excuse.
“The vessel cannot do that. We have the facilities to re-fuel and re-stock water and food for the vessel off the shore. The crew and consignments do not need to disembark, and we will send aid and fuel if required. The ship’s crew which is circling around Sri Lanka should also know the amount of fuel they are carrying. If they use that as an excuse, we will not accept it, and do the transactions of water, fuel and food off shore,” said Capt Silva.

Courtesy:The Morning