Jaffna supply snag despite A9 euphoria

[TamilNet, Sunday, 10 February 2002, 18:49 GMT]
The Pt. Pedro jetty in Jaffna will now operate till 10 p.m. Sri Lankan government officials in the north told TamilNet Sunday. The move would increase the quantum of supplies that can be unloaded from ships, they said. But shippers are reluctant to hire additional vessels to increase supplies to the peninsula as the A9, the main highway to Jaffna, is expected to reopen after the Liberation Tigers and Colombo sign the Memorandum of Understanding on a ceasefire, according to a senior official. An entry point on the highway for civilian traffic into the Vanni is scheduled to open on 15 February at Vilakkuvaiththa Kulam, 18 kilometres north of Vavuniya.

"The shippers' concerns are unfounded. Even if the road is opened all the way to Jaffna eventually, it would be difficult and more expensive to transport large quantities of supplies because the A9 is a hardly motorable dust track today", the official observed.

A European aviation company that had recently indicated an interest in starting a passenger air service between Colombo and Jaffna for the ‘reasonable’ return fare of about 3800 rupees dropped the plan following reports of the A9’s reopening, he said.

Three weeks ago the Liberation Tigers said that they are prepared to open the A9 from Vavuniya to Jaffna to ease the burden on civilians who now pay exorbitant airfares to a company run by the Sri Lanka Air Force or take the ship that runs twice a week from Trincomalee to the peninsula.. The SLA, however, did not want to de-mine its Forward Defence Localities on A9 in the area to enable the opening of the highway to Jaffna.

"There were people who were making a lot money on the air and sea passage to Jaffna. They would naturally

not be happy with the prospect of the A9 being opened all the way to the peninsula", an official at the

Jaffna District Secretariat said.

The special pass would no longer be required of civilians to enter the Pt. Pedro jetty. The jetty operated until 6 p.m. earlier.

 

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