Smooth sailing for Colombo Dockyard
Colombo Dockyard PLC celebrated 37 years of excellence this year and
is looking forward to capitalize on rapid progress in the shipping
workers busy at work
In an interview with Daily News Business, Colombo Dockyard PLC
Managing Director and CEO Mangala P.B. Yapa elaborated on its 37 years
Excerpts of the interview.
Sri Lanka has a background for shipping related industries and was
renowned as a major center for trade. The turning point in the recent
shipping history was the formation of Ceylon Shipping Corporation in
1972 as a national carrier that gave birth to new shipping industry in
As Sri Lankan government own National Carrier was established there
was demand and capacity locally for ships repairs and building. In 1978
existing facilities with the Port were handed over to the Colombo
Dockyard Ltd., a newly established entity, a subsidiary of Ceylon
There were challenges for Colombo Dockyard as an upcoming small
shipyard. The three fold challenges were harnessing manpower (skills and
competencies) ship repairs, business development and acquiring
technology. Whilst collecting locally available skilled labour extensive
training programs were launched in conjunction with National
Apprenticeship Board (now NAITA) to develop the skills needed for the
future. Both local and foreign graduates and sea-going engineers were
attracted to Colombo Dockyard and further developed to meet futuristic
As ship repairing is predominantly labour intense business, finding
skills and competence to carry out activities were difficult. It was a
challenge to attract international business as there was a small ship
ownership in Sri Lanka. During that era the country was renowned as a
predominantly an agricultural nation, with less prominence given on
technology advancements. Colombo Dockyard had to move forward as a
pioneer in the Sri Lankan Industrialization, to keep abreast with the
global technology advancements, which was a huge challenge. Business was
not available in the local market. Thus, it was inevitable for Colombo
Dockyard to move into export oriented markets from day 1.
Acquisition of new technology was done first through DANIDA
Development Program and subsequently through JICA Training during early
days. Being an institution under the purview of Ministry of Shipping,
Colombo Dockyard was able to attract many such opportunities. After
privatization in 1993, the Japanese shareholder, Onomichi Dockyard
played a pivotal role in uplifting the technology and transforming the
organisation culture to what it is today., Today the success of Colombo
Dockyard proves that all these challenges were well addressed and
successfully faced. The skilled and competent engineers for ship
building industry is the need of the hour. There is no university
curriculum to produce these skills and government policy needed to
address such requirements. Building human capacity at national level to
meet today's as well future demand is essentially needed.
The business development was not an easy task. The Colombo Dockyard
was able to build its own brand name on its core values. The core
characteristics of that brand goes beyond Sri Lankan boundaries and the
company today is well established in the Asian sub- continent. The
quality of product, service delivery and safety are the critical issues.
The Colombo Dockyard has competed 9,000 jobs and most of the callers are
repeated callers. The main focus is the customer where customer centric
approach is practice to attract businesses. The 60 percent of business
are from India at present and the challenge to attract businesses from
other markets has been met successfully.
The Colombo Dockyard sustained and expanded businesses in 1983 with a
single largest private investment of US $ 42 million. The company has
earned $ 1.1 billion during its 36 years of operation.
The company found it difficult to move forward at the inception,
since there was no shipping industry as such. Today Colombo Dockyard is
renowned for its technological capability positioning well within the
modern day know-how. The company has achieved high results as a single
entity in the country.
"The 3,000 workforce at Colombo Dockyard is highly skilled,
productive, disciplined, committed and loyal. The company has performed
extremely well and today accounts for 1.5 percent of total exports to
Sri Lanka. It practices different business model from the inception with
main focus of business development and upgrading of technology in Sri
Lanka. "The company has a market capitalization of Rs 18 billion at
present. All this great milestones are achieved utilizing a land area of
25 acres within the port of Colombo operating four graving drydocks for
our core business of Ship Repairs, ship building, Offshore and Heavy
Engineering," Yapa said.
Officials sacked after China boat mishap
Three local government officials were sacked after 12 people,
including nine schoolchildren, lost their lives when an overloaded ferry
boat sank in central China, state press said Sunday.
The accident occurred Saturday on a river in Shaoyang city, Hunan
province when the ferry capsized with 50 people, including 41 school
students, on board, the China News Service reported.
Eleven people were initially reported killed but searchers Sunday
found the body of one person who was missing, it said, adding that the
toll could rise further as the boat had not yet been lifted from the
Three local officials, including the vice head of Shaoyang county,
have been sacked because of the accident, while police have detained for
questioning the boat's owners and workers who were dredging the river,
Xinhua news agency said.
Officials said the ferry sank after it cut across dredging cables
that appeared to then become wrapped around its propeller, Xinhua
The Hunan transportation department said the boat was designed to
carry only 14 people, the report said.
Lax regulation and poor enforcement of safety rules on China's
waterways make fatal accidents fairly common. Beijing, (AFP)
Migrants tell of slavery at sea
Thousands of men from Myanmar and Cambodia set sail on Thai fishing
boats every day, but many are unwilling seafarers - slaves forced to
work in brutal conditions under threat of death.
The day Hla Myint saw the sea for the first time was when traffickers
delivered him, after a week's trek through the jungle from Myanmar, to a
ship on Thailand's coast.
He said it was the beginning of seven months of ``hell", during which
there were beatings ``every day, every hour".
His is one of a multitude of stories of slavery in Thailand's
multi-million dollar fishing industry, which campaigners say relies on
forced labour to provide seafood for restaurants and supermarkets around
Hla Myint decided to escape - throwing himself into choppy waters and
clinging to a life buoy for five hours before reaching land - after
seeing his captain kill a crewmate.
The man, who had been caught trying to escape, was savagely beaten
and tortured in front of the rest of the fishermen. AFP