MV X-Press Pearl second claim payment expected

  • Authorities refuse to divulge amount
  • Second claim proposal put forwarded on 30 July

By Imesh Ranasinghe

The Government put forward a second claim to the owners and insurers of the MV X-Press Pearl vessel on 30 July to compensate the fishing community that is not able to participate in fishing activities in the ongoing season until the shipwreck is removed, The Sunday Morning Business learns.

Speaking to us, an official of the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources said the second claim was calculated based on the loss caused to the fishing community and the relevant stakeholders who were unable to engage in fishing activities during this seasonal period.

Oceanographic conditions around Sri Lanka are driven by a bimodal pattern of monsoonal winds. These monsoons give rise to two periods of fishing operations, the north-east one from December to February and the south-west one from May to September.

He said the second claim is bigger than the first claim of $ 40 million put forward by the Government initially, although out of the first claim, $ 3.6 million or Rs. 720 million in interim compensation was received so far, after the ship’s insurers evaluated the damage, while Rs. 420 million out of it was allocated to compensate the fishing community.

As of 2019, 25,960 fishers were active in the west coast of the country with 103,090 dependents 

However, when contacted, State Minister of Fisheries Kanchana Wijesekara and Ministry of Fisheries Secretary R.M.I. Rathnayake denied any information on the matter and didn’t divulge the amount put forward as the second claim by the Government.

The MV X-Press Pearl caught on fire on 20 May 2021 off the coast of Colombo while carrying 1,486 containers with over 46 different chemicals in them.The disaster caused huge marine environmental damage to the west coast of Sri Lanka, and caused the deaths of over 220 turtles and other marine life. The vessel fully sank on 17 June.

Speaking to us, Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) Chairperson Dharshani Lahandapura said that 53,000 jumbo bags and 45 containers of hazardous waste were collected during the beach cleaning process and it is being stored in yards with permits to store hazardous waste.

She said the beach cleaning process will take six more months to complete. 

Also, speaking to us, Ministry of Justice Secretary M.M.P.K. Mayadunne said a team of insurers appointed by the owners of the vessel have come to assess the second claim put forward by the Government.

X-Press Feeder, the owners of the vessel, is covered for protection and indemnity insurance (P&I) by The London P&I Club.

He said that the wreck of the vessel and the containers that lay in the seabed will be removed once the current monsoon season moderates in September.

Sri Lanka is in the midst of the south west monsoon season which ends this month.

Mayadunne said that Justice Minister Ali Sabry was reviewing the situation every two weeks with the relevant stakeholders while the shipwreck is monitored thrice a day by the Navy and other institutions.