With CEB engineers warning of a 'dark July' if there are no adequate supplies of coal, Leader Red Alert takes a look at the reasons behind the issue.
Thirty-eight shiploads of 60,000 metric tons of coal each are required to fulfill the current electricity needs, whereas only four shiploads have been received so far.
Sufficient stocks should be available by April 15, said the CEB’s Independent Engineers’ Association.
Tender procedure in crisis
There are serious irregularities in the tender process to purchase coal.
With the prevailing economic crisis and the resultant shortage of dollars, coal importation has become difficult under standard procedures.
Lanka Coal Company’s selection of Black Sand to buy coal for 18 months had to be abandoned after Ven. Omalpe Sobhitha Thera challenged it in court.
An order had been placed for the November requirement and a tender to cover the next one year had to be abandoned as well.
Purchases through competition are not happening under the circumstances.
Buying coal is possible through Swiss Singapore, with whom an agreement has been signed previously.
Instead of going for long-term purchases, tender board officials find USD 21 million needed to buy five-days of requirement one way or another.
They also cite technical and other reasons as excuses.
35 shiploads will be unloaded – Lanka Coal Company
Meanwhile, Lanka Coal chairman Shehan Sumanasekara said arrangements are being made to unload 35 shiploads somehow.
In a statement, he said the previous three tenders were abandoned due to their not meeting the requirements.
A fresh procedure to select suppliers is under way with a December 01 closing date.
Maximum efforts will be made to acquire the coal in consideration of all options to ensure an uninterrupted power generation through coordination by the line ministry and the CEB while keeping the economic woes and the dollar shortage in mind, added the Lanka Coal chairman.