Dec 10, 2020

Telecom bosses gearing to sell off old iron poles Featured

Sri Lanka Telecom is preparing to sell off old iron poles along railway tracks, which were used for electrical telegraphing since 1858.

SLT officials including their chairman - Rohan Fernando have held a discussion on this regard with the General Manager of Railways in November. 

It is reported that those behind the move are the same persons who conspired to sell off a century-old underground copper wires as broken wires, to a company connected to the Easter Sunday bombings.

PressRealese 001Discussion held - Gen. Manager of Railways

Upon inquiring this from the General Manager of Railways -  Dilantha Fernando, 'Sri Lanka Mirror' learns that he had discussed the matter with the heads of SLT.

As a result, a committee has been appointed, representing both parties, he added. 

The Railways General Manager further said that among these iron poles are also the poles used for their tablet signal system. The Tyer's Electric Train Tablet system is a form of railway signalling used for single line railways in many countries.

However, he also revealed that the above committee has not been able to continue its work in the past due to the Corona situation.

One pole weighs 250kg

'Sri Lanka Mirror' learns that one such iron pole weighs 250 kilos and 630 such poles are found along the railway line from Colombo to Ragama alone.

As the first first Telegraphic Circuit was established between Galle and Colombo, such poles are common on the Southern Railway track and it is said that the entire railway network is said to include thousands. 

Profit 35%: Debt 70 billion

Although SLT recently announced a profit of 35% in the first three quarters of 2020 compared to last year, its trade unions say that the company is currently facing a massive debt burden of Rs. 70 billion.

It is said that the move to sell off iron poles as scrap metal has emerged due to this.

However, some argue that the poles are state property and not the SLT's to sell. 

This is because the poles were set up when SLT was functioning as a Department.

The SLT only became a corporation in 1991 and was privatised in 1997 with the collaboration of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT) and listed in the Colombo Stock Exchange's Milanka Price Index.

In 2008, NTT sold its stake in SLT to Global Telecommunications Holdings N.V. of Netherlands, which currently owns 44.98% stake in Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) whilst 50.50% is owned by the Government of Sri Lanka and the balance shares remain with the general public.