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Cabinet approves Rs 566mn tyre tender despite concerns by engineers

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The Cabinet has approved a Rs. 566 million tender to supply tyres to the Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) despite a technical evaluation committee (TEC) finding that the product sold by the winning bidder had deviated from a multitude of fixed, predetermined specifications.

The order, equivalent to the SLTB’s four-month requirement for tyres, has been granted to M/s Ferentino Tyre Corporation (Pvt) Ltd, according to official documents seen by the Sunday Times.

The company is owned by controversial businessman Nandana Lokuwithana. In 2017, he secured a sweetheart deal from the Yahapalana Government to set up his factory, including a massive discount on the lease premium on 100 acres of land in Horana and sweeping tax concessions.

Ferentino’s competitor for the bid, M/s CEAT Kelani International Tyres (Pvt) Ltd, was rejected as its price package was around 15 per cent higher and because it did not comply with two technical requirements to meet the SLTB’s expectations. The latter is related to the “minimum load capacity” of one type of tyre; and the “minimum expected guaranteed mileage” of all four tyre sizes.

CEAT subsequently went to the Procurement Appeals Board (PAB) countering that the successful bidder, Ferentino, had secured the tender based on “untested/unproven mileage” and that this was “totally against the bid evaluation procedure and good governance practices”. It urged the PAB to reassess the evaluation process.

The PAB, however, rejected CEAT’s appeal and upheld the Highways Ministry Secretary’s decision to award the tender to Ferentino. It maintained that, where CEAT had failed, the selected bidder offered a tyre type that met the SLTB’s requirements on load capacity and minimum guaranteed mileage. CEAT had offered less guaranteed mileage on all four tyre sizes in contrast to Ferentino, it also said.

The Cabinet subsequently approved Ferentino’s bid. But there are now concerns in transport circles about a number of crucial technical specifications that the winning bidder had itself departed from–and the possibility that this could impact negatively on public safety.

For instance, the three-member TEC has found the Ferentino’s tyre of size 7.50 x 16 deviated from the required overall diameters ordered by SLTB.

In samples provided by Ferentino, the “load capacity double” of this tyre also fell below the weight required by SLTB. (“Load capacity double” refers to how much weight one tyre is rated to carry when paired with another).

The groove depths of these tyres were several millimetres lower than the SLTB specifications. More critically, in one out of the three Ferentino tyre samples that engineering staff inspected, the tyre number–which is indicative of the date of manufacture and must be stamped on the date the product is made–was “unclear”.

“We, therefore, recommend that the stock of 7.50 x 16 tyres do not conform to the Sri Lanka Transport Board specifications as per the samples we have tested,” the TEC holds.

In tyre size 8.25 x 20, the SLTB ordered an outer diameter of the tyres to be 988mm. The three inspected samples had outer diameters of 970, 962 and 968mm each, the TEC observes, adding that this stock of tyres also did not conform to SLTB requirements.

The tyre size 9.00 x 20 had a more serious problem, the TEC holds, indicating that the manufacturing date had been tampered with.

“While the tyre numbers of these tyres are very clearly marked, it is clear that after the production of the tyre, rubber has been applied on the spot and the number marked on top of it,” its report says. “The tyre number should be recorded during the production process. The production year and week of production of a tyre can be known through this number. If the number is printed later, there is a problem in determining the age of the tyre.” This stock is also deemed by the TEC to be outside of SLTB specifications.

In tyre size 1000 x 20, the tyre numbers of two out of three samples were unclear and the outer diameters as well as depth of the tyre treads were lower than ordered. The stock is held to have deviated from SLTB requirements.

Despite these issues, SLTB Chairman S.M.D.L.K.D. Alwis in July defended the tender award to Ferentino and revealed that the company had already started supplying the tyres. He admits in a letter seen by the Sunday Times that engineers who inspected the products had highlighted the shortcomings.

“But considering the current tyre crisis in SLTB and the need to speedily put 175 buses on the road under the project of rehabilitating 400 buses, I give approval to accept 1,032 tyres while notifying the relevant company to correct the minor defects in the parameters indicated by the technical reports and to re-manufacture the tyres,” he states.

(sundaytimes.lk)

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EU refutes claims of conducting election polls survey in SL

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The European Union mission in Sri Lanka has refuted claims stating that they had conducted an election poll survey in Sri Lanka.

The diplomatic mission had stated this on a X post.

Social media posts based on such a report had claimed that the National People’s Power (NPP) was leading the polls.

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Have no any fear about the constitutional amendment – President

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe urged that there should be no fear regarding the constitutional amendment.

He emphasized that when making constitutional amendments, he entrusts the responsibility to experienced professionals. He mentioned that in the past, lawyers like K. N. Choksi were involved in such matters.

However, since Mr. Choksi had passed away by the time of the new constitutional amendment in 2015, the task was assigned to lawyer Jayampathi Wickramaratne.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe acknowledged that the current issues have resulted from an oversight on his part and expressed his apology to the public for it. 

He made this statement today (19) during the opening of the new court complex in Beligaha, Galle.

To enhance the efficiency of justice administration for the people of Galle, a new court complex was constructed at a cost of LKR 1600 million. The complex houses a Civil Appeal High Court, two High Courts, three District Courts, two Magistrate Courts, a Legal Aid Centre, a Community Corrections Office, a Probation Office, and a Debt Relief Board. It is fully equipped with necessary facilities for court proceedings, including administrative offices.

After unveiling the plaque and officially opening the new court complex, the President took an observation tour of the premises. 

The Galle Bar Association also presented a commemorative gift to the President.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe further stated:“I would like to extend my gratitude to Minister Wijayadasa Rajapakshe for overseeing the completion of this Judicial Complex. With plans to develop the area as a tourist destination, it was crucial to relocate the existing Court Complex, and I am pleased to say that this has been accomplished.

As we work to transform the Galle area into a tourist hub, we have identified locations outside the province for large hotel developments. Additionally, there are plans to move the Transport Board, Timber Corporation, Mahamodara Hospital, Nursing College, Prison and Post Office to the city centre. We also plan to build a similar court complex in the Hikkaduwa area.

The Galle District Court Complex holds historical significance. After Dutch rule, the Batavian Statutes introduced Roman-Dutch law to Ceylon, making Galle a jurisdictional centre with a judicial board, a civil board, and a land board. This marked the beginning of our judicial system. While the Galle judicial area was originally divided into the Matara and Galle districts, only the Galle district continues to operate as a judicial region.

During the Dutch period, the majority of the Land Board members were Dutch, while the minority were Sri Lankans from Ruhuna. The Sri Lankans learned the law from the Dutch and later emerged as lawyers during the English colonial period.

Over time, many Sri Lankans pursued careers in law and entered the Legislative Assembly. Lawyers became a cornerstone of the legislative system. Under the Donoughmore Constitution, they served in the State Council with significant voting power. The English system of governance was established through the Soulbury Constitution, and when India adopted a republican constitution, Sri Lanka followed suit with the English system. 

Colvin R. de Silva introduced the first Republican Constitution, while J.R. Jayewardene presented the Second Republican Constitution. Sri Lanka has a rich constitutional history and a strong commitment to the rule of law.

In 1931, Sri Lanka became the first country in Asia and Africa to grant universal suffrage. Unlike in the United States, where some states did not extend voting rights to Black people, Sri Lanka is unique for maintaining democracy continuously since then. We should take pride in this achievement. Despite facing wars and rebellions, Sri Lanka has preserved its democratic system, and democracy has remained intact despite numerous challenges.

In Sri Lanka, power transitions smoothly and without conflict after elections, a testament to the strength of our democratic process. Despite various debates and issues, democracy has never been compromised.

Some critics argue that democracy is at risk during certain crises. However, our constitution, judiciary, and political system have worked to advance and protect it. The most significant threat to our democracy occurred in 2022, yet we have continued to progress through consensus.

While Parliament remains a venue for debate, protecting democracy is crucial. The upcoming election is on schedule, with the Chief Justice and the Supreme Court confirming that it should be held within the specified timeframe, and we support this directive.

In 2015, we proposed a new constitutional amendment. Typically, I would have assigned this task to K. N. Choksi, a lawyer. However, since he had passed away, the responsibility fell to lawyer Jayampathi Wickramaratne. He was unable to make the necessary revisions. This oversight is regrettable, and I apologize to the nation for it. There is no need for further discussion on this matter; our country has upheld democracy since 1931.

Additionally, the government will fund the compilation of a book on the heritage of Galle’s history”.

Mr. Wijayadasa Rajapakshe, Minister of Justice, Prison Affairs and Constitutional Reform;

As a citizen of Ruhuna, I am very pleased to celebrate the opening of the new modern court complex in the southern province. The lawyers in the Galle area have faced many challenges, and it took approximately 12 years to complete this project due to various obstacles. Thanks to the President’s intervention, we have successfully built this impressive facility.

Despite the national crisis over the past two years, the President ensured that the judicial process continued smoothly. The new court complex has faced some political accusations, but it is important to clarify that this facility was not constructed for political purposes. Our goal is to provide better access to justice and relief to the people, as we view the court as a temple of the people.

Minister of Health and Industries Dr. Ramesh Pathirana;
Thank you to everyone who contributed to making this court complex a reality. During the country’s economic crisis, continuing the construction was challenging, but President Ranil Wickremesinghe provided the necessary financial support to complete the project. Without his assistance, this achievement would not have been possible.

State Ministers Anuradha Jayaratne, Geetha Kumarasinghe, and Mohan Priyadarshana Silva, along with Members of Parliament Vajira Abeywardena and Sampath Athukorala, attended the event. Also present were Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, Attorney General Parinda Ranasinghe, Galle District Secretary W. Dharmasiri, Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Justice R. S. Hapugaswatta, High Court Judges, District Judges, Magistrates, Galle Bar Association President Ruwan Asiri De Silva, and other lawyers and government officials.

(President’s Media Division)

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Lanka Sathosa reduces prices of six essentials

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The prices of some essential consumer goods sold by Lanka Sathosa have been reduced.

Lanka Sathosa, the only state owned supermarket chain in the country, has reduced prices of six essential food items effective 19 July in order to provide relief to the public on the directives by the Ministry of Trade, Commerce and Food Security.

Accordingly, 1 Kg of Undu (bulk) which was sold at Rs. 1,500 has been brought down to Rs. 1,400 with a saving of Rs. 100. The new price of Sathosa milk powder 400 gram pack has been reduced to Rs. 910 from its previous price of Rs. 950 providing a saving of Rs. 40.

Wheat flour 1 Kg (bulk) is now sold at Rs. 180 with a price reduction of Rs. 10 from its previous price of Rs. 190. Price of White Sugar (bulk) 1 Kg has been reduced by Rs. 5 from its previous price of Rs. 265 and is now sold at Rs. 260.

The new price of 1 Kg of White Kekulu Rice (bulk) is Rs. 200 reduced from its previous price of Rs. 204 with a saving of Rs. 4. Keeri Samba Rice (bulk) 1 Kg which was sold at Rs. 260 has been reduced by Rs. 2 and now sold at Rs. 258.

(dailynews.lk)

 (This story, originally published by dailynews.lk has not been edited by SLM staff)

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