Bullet-proof jacket maker Mohandas Ajitha Wijetunge shows off his "made-in-Sri Lanka" 'kevlar' plates. Pix: Lakruwan Wanniarachchi
Harsha International has to supply ballistic related protective jackets to troops, especially to those deployed in operational areas, the government said Saturday.
The government did not disclose the order quantity, but said the order was 'vital' given the 'present security situation.'
The announcement comes a day after a suspected Tiger suicide bomber rammed an autorickshaw packed with explosives into defence secretary Gotabhya Rajapakse's convoy of vehicles.
Rajapakse, who is also president Mahinda Rajapakse's younger brother, was not hurt, but the blast down Colombo's Dharmapala Mawatha, killed three people and injured 15 others.
"As there is no readily available alternative to fulfill this critical need, the Defence Secretary has secured treasury secretary's consent procure protective wear from the local market," the government said following the weekly cabinet meeting.
Wife of bullet-proof jacket maker Mohandas Ajitha Wijetunge, Himmani shows off some of their "made-in-Sri Lanka" jackets. Pix: Lakruwan Wanniarachchi
Harsha International's Mohandas Ajitha Wijetunga, 46, and his wife Himmani, 45, employ a small army of workers at the factory in Mahara, to make camouflage body armour, flak jackets and bullet-proof vests.
Besides the Sri Lankan armed forces, Wijetunga has kitted up Jordanian and Saudi Arabian troops, as well as some United Nations peacekeepers.
"I am delighted to secure this order. I have spent my own money to invent and develop this product in Sri Lanka. Kitting up our own troops is the best advertisement for me," Wijetunga, a former marine engineer, told LBO.
Harsha International import their main raw material "Kevlar", a thin fibre with tremendous strength and resistant to cuts and heat, and turn out jackets according to the individual needs of foreign buyers.
Wijetunga did not like to disclose the prices of their hi-tech garments and accessories, but said they were about one third of the cost of securing one from overseas.The Wijetungas also supply dog tags, rain gear, camouflage clothing and socks to the island's security forces and the police.