Mar 27, Colombo: All Free Trade Zones (FTZs) island wide will be closed until further notice and the employees will be sent home with the assistance of the security forces.
Minister of Industrial Export and Investment Promotion and Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation Prasanna Ranatunga has instructed the country’s investment promotion agency Board of Investment to close all the FTZs in the country until further notice.
The Minister had instructed the Investment Board to obtain the assistance of the Police and the Army in facilitating the safe return of all FTZ employees who were stranded at their boarding houses, back to their homes after a complete health inspection starting from today, the Government Information Department said.
The Minister also instructed the police and the Army to provide transport facilities to the employees of the respective areas from today (27) morning. It was also decided to provide breakfast and lunch to the workers who were traveling to the villages.
The Minister had issued these instructions during a meeting held at the BOI in Katunayake on Thursday with the BOI officials and factory owners and representatives, state media reported.
Director of the Board of Investment, NKD Lawrence has said that many factories in the Katunayake Free Trade Zone have been closed down. The Director said that the majority of the employees who were in the Free Trade Zone have aleady gone to their houses and only a few still remain in the lodging rooms.
The Minister instructed the relevant officials to work out a proper program on the health and the meals for the employees whose service is needed for manufacturing equipment for the health sector. Minister Ranatunga said that if such factories are operational, then the factory management should take responsibility of the workers’ health, food and other facilities.
The minister also instructed the BOI officials to announce the departure time of the buses provided by the police for the employees to travel to the villages and ensure their safe return.
The factory owners in the area had donated a sum of Rs. 500,000 on the spot to provide necessary facilities to the employees who are currently living in the area near the Katunayake Free Trade Zone.
Following the meeting Minister Ranatunga responding to media queries stated that these measures were taken on the directives of President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.
The media questioned the Minister regarding the statement made by the JVP that there were around 20,000 FTZ workers stranded at their boarding houses. In response, the Minister said that if such a number was still in Katunayake, then enforcing curfew would have been problematic.
He noted that according to the statistics of the BOI officials, only a small number of workers are still at their boarding houses and all facilities will be provided to them for their safe return to their homes.
The BOI officials said that FTZ workers could contact the following officials regarding the transport facilities for them to return to their respective home towns.
1. Katunayake :- Director Sisil Fernando - 0777-986474
2. Wathupitiwala / Meerigama / Malwatte FTZ :- Director D.M. Tillakaratne - 0777-808637
3. Biyagama :- Directress Kalyani Botheju - 0777-807662
4. Koggala :- Director Gamini Dassanayake - 077-3140200
5. Horana :- Director Dharshana Walpita - 076-0387820
6. Seethawaka :- Director Nihal Kumara Peiris - 0777-808756
7. Mawathagama / Polgahawela :- Director Noel Dabare - 0777-809102
8. Kandy:- Director Jayalath Mohottala - 0777-808291