Lanka Business Online

Drifting Away

July 21, 2006 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s main export industry is reeling due to the ongoing strike at the Colombo port, amid moves by feeder vessel operators to hike rates to recover losses, officials said Friday. The island’s 2.5 billion dollar clothing industry is unable to meet buyers’ deadlines and is contemplating taking legal action to restrain striking port workers.

Ships carrying raw materials for the clothing industry are bypassing Colombo and offloading them in Dubai and Singapore.

On the other hand, manufacturers are losing millions because they are forced to airfreight finished goods to meet tight deadlines of buyers.

“The port strike is a huge problem for our industry,” Ashroff Omar, chairman of the Joint Apparel Association Forum told LBO.

“Everyday, we ship around 10 million dollars of goods and import about 5-million dollars worth of raw materials. There are also delays in air freighting goods because of the backlog in the port,” Omar said.

Meanwhile, feeder vessels coming into Colombo port have slapped a ‘recovery surcharge’ on containers loaded and unloaded at the island’s main harbour.