News

MV X-Press Pearl disaster: 2nd compensation claim filed

  • Compensation expected as wreck salvage begins
  • Salvage operations to start next month and last 4 months

By Uwin Lugoda

The second interim claim for damages caused due to the MV X-Press Pearl disaster has been filed, and the authorities were confident that the requests would be honoured next month.

The second segment of the expected compensation will come as the preliminary work for the salvage of the wreck is set to begin early next month, The Sunday Morning learnt.

The salvage operation is expected to take four months.

Responding to a query by The Sunday Morning, Ministry of Justice Secretary M.M.P.K. Mayadunne stated that the Government had already submitted the second interim claim and was waiting for it to be verified by the insurers.

Once verified, he estimated that the second compensation payment for the incident would be paid within the next three weeks.

“As of now, we only got the first payment of $ 3.6 million (Rs. 720 million). But we have submitted the second interim (claim) for the second payment and insurers were here for three weeks verifying everything. So, we expect the second payment in the coming weeks,” said Mayadunne.

Mayadunne would not comment on the value of the compensation when asked.

He stated that the complete compensation amount would only be paid once the wreckage of the ship had been salvaged from the seabed.

He explained that following the payment of the second compensation claim, the insurers will have to compensate the fishermen who were impacted, and also settle a claim for the damage caused to the marine environment’s biodiversity.

However, Mayadunne stated that both these claims would only be filed once the complete wreck had been removed from the seabed.

“The fishermen’s claim will be filed before the biodiversity claim, since 450 km of the ocean had been closed off to them, impacting their livelihoods. But their claim will be pending until the wreckage is completely removed. The biodiversity claim will be the largest one, and it will also be the last. This is because we have to wait till the wreckage is removed and do an environmental damage report,” Mayadunne explained.

According to him, a committee of 37 local experts, alongside the Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA), had been assigned to conduct this damage report. He stated that they were unable to estimate an amount at the moment, since the compensation would depend on environmental conditions following the removal of the wreckage.

“We have already planned for dredging efforts to begin in the first week of November and expect it to take at least four months for the ship to completely be salvaged,” he said.

X-Press Feeders, the operators of the container ship X-Press Pearl, through the vessel owner’s P&I insurers, made an initial payment of Rs. 720 million in May to the Government to help compensate those affected by the consequences of the fire and sinking of the vessel.

Out of this initial payment, the Ministry of Fisheries provided Rs. 216.5 million to the relevant district secretariats to pay as compensation to 12,111 fishing vessel owners and fishermen in the Colombo, Gampaha, and Kalutara Districts, who were impacted by the incident.

According to Ministry Secretary Indu Ratnayake, this was paid according to an assessment done by the relevant parties.

“The compensation was assessed as a daily payment for the fishermen, and we hope to start the next stage as well,” Ratnayake said.

Accordingly, Rs. 150 million had been paid to fishermen in the Gampaha District, Rs. 52.67 million to fishermen in the Colombo District, and Rs. 13.83 million to fishermen in the Kalutara District.