I have been approached by many of these small subcontractors of projects that have recently been temporarily suspended.
For a short list, not extensive, they are the Port City, Northern Expressway, Kadawatha to Kerawalpitiya part of the Outer Colombo ring road, Lotus Tower, Defence Headquarters etc.
Apart from the Port City which is a China financed project, that is delayed due to serious environmental concerns that have not been considered in the initial awarding of the contract, to say nothing of new revelations, such as the no fly zone over the Project area! The others are due to gross over costing of projects.
As far as the subcontractors are concerned, they had made arrangements based on the continuation of these contracts, and taken on new leases of heavy equipment and dumpster trucks to transport sand, rocks and building materials. I was also informed that even a rock in Mawanella was earmarked for the Port City! I hope it was not the Saradiel one which we always look at from the Kandy road as kids and his antics were told us as folklore.
Anyway the problem is for the 500 or so small contractors who claim to have voted for Maithripala Sirisena at the last election! They are now screwed. They have taken out leases on over 1500 vehicles, and staff to drive these vehicles and are now unable to pay their leases and salaries, and are gradually running out of resources, and the bailiffs are out to pick up the excavators, loaders, backhoes bulldozers tippers and such like.
What can the Government do in these instances? They cannot appeal to the leasing companies to give them a grace period, as those who are paying off their leases normally will shout that it is unfair to help the overstretched people looking to make a fast buck on expensive and lucrative subcontracts.
There is ONLY one solution, and that is to immediately review these contracts, reduce their costs dramatically, get them to agree to new terms, and resume operations, and here, the sub-contractors too should know that their terms will also be reduced, and their hoped for profits cut to size.
I am concerned that in doing so there are a lot of untrustworthy politicians in this Government hoping to cash in on this hiatus to make some money for themselves, without looking at the national interest and good governance issues they have pledged. They will be the cause for any delay in resumption till their cut is given!
I hope that Mr Clean Prime Minister, will have the sense to employ trustworthy professionals to urgently renegotiate these terms and get back to business as we need to finish Kerawalpitiya to Kadawatha for starters and also the expressway to Kandy and at least to Anuradhapura leg of the Northern Highway. Lets do it, I am ready.