No Trace of Rs 450B Worth Machinery
By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan
Cabinet approval has been obtained to sell all the remaining machinery parts at the Kankesanthurai (KKS) Cement Factory without probing what happened to the Rs 450 billion worth machinery that was dismantled and removed from the time it was shut down in 1990 due to the war, Ceylon Today learns.
It was also revealed recently several Government officials had visited the KKS Cement Factory, along with the broker who would be negotiating the selling of the remaining machinery parts as scrap metal.
The Officer-in-Charge of the Jaffna operation of the KKS factory appointed by the Lanka Cement Ltd (LCL) P. Wimalathasan said the Thellipalai Divisional Secretary had also come with the team to discuss selling the remaining machinery. Wimalathasan also said he was asked to leave the premises when they were discussing the matter. Wimalathasan had not received his salary for 33 months and noted that when the theft is still under probe and no closure on the matter, how the Government could choose to sell the remaining machinery parts.
Ever since the cement factory suspended its operations and taken over by the military, over 60 per cent of the machinery were removed in parts and they gradually disappeared from the factory.
Currently, there is around 40 per cent of the machinery left at the LCL, a subsidiary company of Cement Corporation that ran one of the biggest cement factories in Asia using German machinery that had a guarantee of over 100 years.
They were purchased in 1983 and ran in the new factory simultaneously with the Ceylon Cement Corporation producing over 3,100 metric tonnes of cement per day until the production came to a halt.
Former President Maithripala Sirisena appointed a Presidential Commission to probe the massive theft of machines at the factory and the report revealed over 540 lorries had visited the premises in the night to remove parts of the machines. The report also noted while the hearing, former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa (Now President of the country) had stated that he never approved the dismantling of the Kankesanturai (KKS) Cement Factory and Cement Company and sale of its machinery and equipment as scrap metal. He had also not seen any document granting approval for it signed by him either.
The CID revealed that this stock of iron had been sold to one Siraz Mohamed and Yusuf Asthan and a retired Army officer named E.M.V. Ekanayake.
When asked, the current LCL Chairman Mahesh Alahapperuma, said officially no one summoned any officials from the LCL over the matter and also the case is not officially seen a closure.
However, Alahapperuma noted that it’s the discretion of the Government and the Ministry of Industries what to do with the KKS cement factory. He also noted that selling the remaining parts of the machinery would settle their lenders, stakeholders, and creditors who are waiting for their payment. “I do not know whether the Government would restart the cement factory operation or not.”