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CEB engineers baffled by naphtha price hike as A/Ls approached

CEB engineers baffled by naphtha price hike as A/Ls approached

4 months ago | BY Buddhika Samaraweera

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Claiming that it has become impossible to prevent scheduled power cuts during the General Certificate of Education (GCE) Advanced Level (A/L) Examination period due to the increase in the price of naphtha required for the Kelanitissa Power Plant from Rs. 164 to Rs. 220, the Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers’ Union (CEBEU) stated that it is difficult to determine why the price of naphtha has been increased in such a way when fuel prices have not increased in the world market.

Speaking at a media briefing held yesterday (24), CEBEU President Nihal Weeraratne said: “As the CEBEU, our clear intention was to provide electricity without power cuts, especially for students who appear for the A/L Exam to study without any obstacle. There is the Kelanitissa Power Plant which can generate more than three-gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity per day. We know that about 2.5 GWh are saved by a power cut. However, the price of naphtha needed by this power plant has been increased from Rs. 164 to Rs. 220. If electricity is generated by using naphtha purchased at that price, there will be a loss of more than Rs. 50 million a day. We do not know why such a price hike was made at the last moment.”

He said that the CEBEU was aware that the A/L Exam would begin by this time, and that they were, therefore, working hard to quickly unload the coal ships that had arrived in the recent past. He said that the staff of the Lakvijaya Power Plant in Norochcholai was working in particular to unload the coal shipments, adding that they were able to restart the power generation activities of the said power plant, which had been stopped due to certain maintenance activities, by 21 January, through which a substantial capacity of electricity can, in turn, be generated. 

“We were ready to generate electricity that way, but the rulers have changed that situation. The price of fuel in the world market did not rise and the price of naphtha suddenly increased as the A/L Exam approached. We do not know why such a decision was made. The CEB is not a profit-making institution and it is already running at a loss. That is why we cannot afford the cost of naphtha at this price. What we have to say is that we have worked as hard as possible to provide an uninterrupted power supply during the A/L Examination period, but it is the rulers who have created this situation. We are really sorry about it,” added Weeraratne.

Meanwhile, the Ceylon Teachers'’ Union (CTU) claimed that the Ministry of Education has not taken any step to co-ordinate with the relevant authorities such as the Ministry of Power and Energy and the CEB to ensure an uninterrupted power supply during the A/L Examination period. “When there is no power supply, students lose the opportunity to study. Carrying out power cuts during an important examination like this is completely wrong. It is best to not carry out power cuts at all, but if it is not possible to do so for some reason, power cuts should be carried out before the examination ends each day. This does not happen and there is no power supply in some areas at night as well. This is totally unfair and the Education Ministry has not done anything to solve this issue. The Ministry knew that the A/L Exam will be held at this time. Therefore, it should have come up with a plan, discussed it with the relevant institutions, and ensured a continuous power supply during this period,” said CTU President Priyantha Fernando while speaking to The Daily Morning.

In a letter addressed to the Power and Energy Ministry and the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL), Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) Chairperson retired Judge of the Supreme Court Justice Rohini Marasinghe had stated that it was observed that the right to equality of the students who are sitting for the A/L Examination had been violated by the hours-long power cuts during the examination period. Accordingly, she had instructed them to instruct the CEB to refrain from carrying out power cuts at any time during the Examination period.

The A/L Examination, for which a total of 331,709 school and private applicants are to appear, commenced at 2,200 examination centres islandwide on Monday (23). The CEB had informed the PUCSL on 19 January that a situation had arisen where the continuous supply of electricity cannot be ensured during the relevant period. In order to supply electricity without any scheduled power cut, it had informed the PUCSL that there was a need for a sum of about Rs. 4 billion, but that it is not possible to procure the said sum of money at the moment.

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