By R.M.B Senanayake –
Surcharge those responsible for the cost of the Mattala Airport – a colossal waste of public funds
The Mattala Airport is a colossal waste of public funds. It was estimated to cost US$ 210 million. It was entirely the idea and work of Mahinda Rajapaksa. There is no evidence that he consulted any technical officials in the airport and air navigation field.
Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA) (also known as the Hambantota International Airport) (IATA: HRI, ICAO: VCRI) is an international airport serving the city of Hambantota in southeast Sri Lanka. Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport is Sri Lanka’s second international airport, after Bandaranaike International Airport. It is named after the Rajapaksa family. It is the newest airport in Sri Lanka.
The new international airport was expected to expand the local aviation industry whilst being a catalyst for the country’s economic development enabling international trade, tourism, vocational training and employment. It was being implemented as an eco-friendly project. The airport was estimated to cost US$210 million and, by the end of construction, will cover 2,000 hectares. It was built to be compatible with the latest Airbus A380 aircraft and has been designed according to recommendations of the International Civil Aviation Organization. According to Sri Lankan government officials, future domestic airline Air Hybrid, and international airlines Emirates, Enter Air, Etihad Airways, Korean Air, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, and TUI showed interest in flying to Mattala, but none of these airlines confirmed these statements by government officials. Air Arabia, Rotana Jet, Airlines and Mihin Air did fly to Mattala at various times, but all cancelled service for commercial reasons. Flydubai is the only airline currently flying to Mattala.
The airport was declared open by the President of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa, on 18 March 2013 and commenced operations with the landing of a SriLankan Airlines special Airbus A340 flight named ‘City of Magam Ruhunupura’ with the President on board. According to Wikipedia there were the following incidents at the new airport.
Incidents at Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport;
· 25 March 2013, A SriLankan Airlines Airbus A340-300 flight UL 114 aircraft travelling from Malé to Colombo via Hambantota had met with an accident while flying from Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport to Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo. A few minutes after taking off from Mattala, a bird hit the windshield and damaged it. No passengers were injured.
· 11 January 2014, A flyDubai Boeing 737-800 flight FZ 551 aircraft traveling from Colombo to Dubai via Hambantota had met with an accident while flying from Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport to Dubai International Airport in United Arab Emirates. The airplane encountered the birds during its take-off from Mattala international airport.
It is a colossal failure. Should no one be held responsible for such a colossal waste of public funds?
Is there no possibility of going to courts to hold Mahinda Rajapaksa personally responsible for such wasteful and uneconomic expenditure? Would a lawyer please express an opinion on this matter for I think there are persons interested in public interest litigation who would go to courts against Mahinda Rajapaksa?
If there is no law then a new law on Public Finance and Accountability should be passed. If MR was a public official he would be guilty of violating the Financial Regulations. But there is a doubt about whether Ministers and the President can be bound by these Financial Regulations. Public Interest organizations should address their minds to this issue since public funds are the subject matter. Can Ministers be allowed to act with impunity in matters of public finance? We are now talking much about good governance. What about its applicability in financial matters?