With large numbers quarantined, there are COVID-19 positive cases emerging from all three terminals — the Jaya Container Terminal (JCT), the South Asia Gateway Terminal (SAGT) and the Colombo International Container Terminal (CICT).
Exporters and trade unions have noticed a relaxation in the health guidelines at the port and this has resulted in workers fearing for their lives as the pandemic spreads around the port.
They assert that health regulations were not strictly followed after the last lockdown and as a result the JCT has agreed that workers will report to work and stay for 14 days following which they will be subjected to a PCR test and then sent home.
The congestion at the port began following a drop in the number of workers.
Exporters are unable to load cargo since vessels may not be available and space on available ships is hard to get. In addition, freight rates have skyrocketed due to the surge in demand.
Importers say they find it hard to get their cargo in as some of the vessels may re-route to other regional ports. As a result, they need to spend more to bring these cargo on other vessels to Colombo.
Freight rates have gone up by as much as 50 percent to Europe and by about 100 per cent to some areas like Australia.
Source - The Sunday Times