ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Hayleys group rejected allegations of importing waste, saying its logistics arm was moving fast to ship a consignment of used mattresses after the consignee was unable to continue processing and re-export as it was in financial trouble.
Ruwan Waidyaratne, Managing Director of Hayleys Advantis Limited, the group’s logistics arm under which comes Hayleys Free Zone Limited, a logistics and entrepot trading firm, said it suspended further imports of used mattresses after advice from the Board of Investment (BOI) and would re-export remaining containers at its own expense.
He rejected allegations the 130 containers of used mattresses at the centre of a controversy were hospital waste, saying Hayleys was merely the logistics provider, not the shipments’ importer or owner.
Hayleys Free Zone Limited also was not connected with another consignment of 102 boxes of mattresses shipped by the same importer lying abandoned at Colombo port, Waidyaratne told a news conference.
It was held to give the company’s point of view after allegations that imported used mattresses its entrepot centre was handling on behalf of the shipper were polluting the environment.
The BOI said last week Hayleys Free Zone Limited had failed to fulfil commitments the cargo would be re-exported, after it was observed in January 2018 as having been stored within the free zone premises without being re-exported as envisaged for a long time.
“The company however, has failed to meet this commitment and has from time to time requested extensions to comply, citing technical and other constraints,” the BOI said, noting it would take stern action against the company.
“Unfortunately, this whole operation has been misconstrued,” Waidyaratne said. “We were accused (in the media) of bringing garbage to destroy the environment. It is a story orchestrated with very vicious motives.
“We have nothing to do with the 102 containers stuck in the port. We are not the importer of the 130 containers and they are not hospital waste,” Waidyaratne said.
Hayleys Free Zone Limited is one of six operators at the free zone in Katunayake, an offshore entrepot centre near the main international airport, of whom it was one of the three multi-user facilities or logistics companies.
Hayleys Free Zone was established under the Commercial Hub Regulation Act, and operates as an offshore location providing logistics services to global clients, mainly offering storage and value added services for re-export, as done in other free zones elsewhere.
Waidyratne said the problem arose when the importer of the used mattresses, Ceylon Metal Processing Corporation Pvt Ltd., got into financial trouble and was unable to continue processing and re-export of the shipments, after having re-exported 29 boxes.
Hayleys Free Zone Limited was named the consignee of the used mattress cargo under the entrepot hub law under which all entrepot shipments are destined to one of the six free zone operators.
“We handle over 100 clients in our free zone facility,” Waidyratne said. “This shipment in question is one of those shipments that have come into the free zone for re-working and re-export.
“What we do as reworking is, we break the mattresses into four components – fabric, felt, sponge, and steel – and everything is bundled and pressed and shipped out. We are only paid for storage and handling of goods – the logistics services we do.” #
Wasteprocesing is a specalized business, which require specialized technology, safeguards against pollution and safety equipment for people as well as a license, experts say.
Holding cargo in one place for a time, pendng the finding of a buyer or processing also amounts to processing, as is opening and dismantling cargo.
(COLOMBO, 22 July, 2019)