New Trinco market remains contested, unopened

[TamilNet, Thursday, 10 June 1999, 07:25 GMT]
The former chairman of the Trincomalee Urban Council Mr.P.Sooriyamoorthy has appealed to the Governor of the North East Province to take immediate steps to open the town's recently constructed general market, during the Local Government Week, now being celebrated in Sri Lanka.

Mr.P.Sooriyamoorthy has written a four-page letter to the Governor, Major General (retd) Asoka Jayawardhene, said sources.

The new market, constructed at a cost of six million rupees at Keeraithoddam in the heart of Trincomalee town, has not been opened due to the intervention of local security forces, council sources said.

The former Chairman of the UC took steps to open the new market in October,1997, but his attempt was thwarted by the Sinhala traders dominating the old market of the council.

The Sinhala traders went in a procession to the site of the new market, protesting against the opening. The security forces intervened on their behalf and instructed the UC authorities not to open the new market "as it would disturb the communal harmony prevailing in the cosmopolitan town of Trincomalee".

The Sinhala traders in the town say that the new market was constructed by the council for the exclusive use by Tamil traders.

When Major General Asoka Jayawardhene assumed duties as the fourth governor of the north east province, Mr.Sooriyamoorthy was the Chairman of the council met him and made a request to take steps to open the new market.

The Governor, at that time, had promised that he would find an amicable solution to the new market problem, having talked with all the parties concerned.

Mr.Sooriyamoorthy in his written appeal to the Governor this week has reminded that six months have passed since this assurance was given to him.

Extracts from the letter are:

"Local authorities have been established to serve the people by providing basic amenities such as water, road, market and other essential services. Local Government Ordinance empowers urban councils to construct markets.

"But in Trincomalee, a new market has been constructed by the urban council conforming to the local government ordinance.

"But the security forces have not allowed the opening of the new market, because the administration of the elected council was in the hands of Tamils.

"This has proved that the government is keen in protecting the interests of the major community" states Mr.Sooriyamoorthy in his letter to the Governor.

"How could we expect this government to find a just and fair solution to the ethnic problem when it is not allowing the opening of a market constructed by a Tamil dominated urban council," he asks the Governor.

"I appeal to you, to ensure the independence of the local government institutions, to take immediate steps to open the new market of the council," he wrote. "Otherwise no useful purpose will be served by celebrating the Local Government Week in the country with pomp and pageantry"


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