Vanni faces creeping embargo, SLA blamed
[TamilNet, Sunday, 15 July 2007, 02:43 GMT]
New regulations and checking procedures introduced by Sri Lanka Army (SLA) officials on vehicles transporting essentials to Vanni through the Oamanthai checkpoint, under SLA's expressed objective of increased security, have severely restricted the flow of goods into the Liberation Tigers controlled region, civil society sources in Vanni said. Administrative officals inside Vanni said that the district residents face severe shortage of essentials such as sugar and flour if stocks are not replenished within two weeks.
Administrative officials of the Co-operative unions in Vanni speaking to media last week said that the regular relief supplies by the co-operative unions for the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) have already been stopped and that the co-operative societies are unable to meet the needs of the public.
"Karaichchi North co-op society serves the needs of the 7600 families in this region, through a network of 18 branches. Due to estrictions imposed by SLA at Oamanthai on transporting flour, milkpowder, sugar, and other essentials, we are unable to meet the basic demands of the IDPs," said Sithamparanathan Sutharsan, Chief accountant of Karaichchi North co-op society, in Ki’linochchi district.
"Recently the SLA has imposed a number of restrictions regarding transport of consumer items into Vanni. Our lorries traveling from Vanni can proceed only up to Vavuniyaa and are not allowed to proceed to Colombo.
"All lorries arriving from Colombo are allowed to proceed only up to Mathavaachchi and the goods transported by these vehicles are unloaded and checked. The goods are then transported from Mathavaachchi to Vavuniyaa through lorries operating from Vavuniyaa. Vanni lorries have to wait at Vavuniyaa to receive these goods. The lorries are checked again in Omanthai. Due to delay at the checkpoint about 10 to 15 lorries are turned back daily to Vavuniyaa," Sutharsan said.
"In addition to lower quantity of essentials reaching Vanni, the co-op society incurs excessive losses as some lorries are forced to stay in Vavuniyaa for up to 20 days. We suffer an extra 25% of the normal cost Rs 42,000 when a lorry is turned back to Vavuniyaa from Oamanthai. The overall cost has doubled from that during the peace-time," Sutharsan added.
The official also said his organization faces difficulties in hiring lorries in Vavunniyaa as large number of lorries are held up at SLA check points in Omanthai and Mathavaachchi.
Nagalingam Arasaratnam, President of Karaichchi south Co-operative Society with 19 branches in the region, also faces similar difficulties.
"Over 15,000 families reside within our distribution area. We now have only 1920 kilos of flour in stock," Arasaratnam said.
Thuraiappah Ratnasingham, the General Manager of Poonakari Co-operative society, with 22 branches, echoed the same complaint, stating that stocks of essential supplies have been depleted and that his region critically needs replenishment of supplies.