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Prior permission needed to enter Port – Minister

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“They are the Port Authority, the Navy and the Customs. Only once permission is obtained from these institutions can one enter the Port.”

He said that the Opposition Leader should have at least contacted him as the Ports and Shipping Minister prior to attempting to visit the Port.

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa informed Parliament yesterday that he was refused access to the Colombo Harbour Police premises when he had gone to inquire into the wellbeing of those who were detained during the teachers’ protest, including a pregnant woman and a breastfeeding mother.

The Leader of the Opposition said that his privileges were violated as the Police had refused to give him access, add that one set of lawyers had been allowed access while another set of lawyers accompanying him was refused access. .

Premadasa said that both the Police and the Ports Authority refused to allow him to meet the detainees. “They have no right to prevent me from visiting them to inquire into their wellbeing.”

Abeygunawardena noted that the Opposition is talking about not being granted access to the Harbour, but back when they were in power and current PM Mahinda Rajapaksa was in the Opposition, they had prevented them from entering Parliament when they came on push bicycles in protest of the fuel price hike, despite them being MPs. “We came to Parliament with the blessings of the public and we represent the people as Members of Parliament. Your Government prevented us from entering Parliament back then but now you have the audacity to talk about being prevented from entering the harbour.”

He said that there are protests throughout the country with the blessings of the Opposition Leader, adding that he is suspicious whether Premadasa is attempting to spread the coronavirus and destabilise the port operations. Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said that he will look into the issue.

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