The Sri Lanka Navy intervened on Saturday, December 10, to break up a protest and free two merchant held hostage by workers at the Hambantota Port.
Port workers staged a several-day protest against the government’s plans to privatize the port, the navy said.
Protesters were reportedly obstructing the operations of the merchant ships berthed alongside the jetty and were causing damage to the ships and adjacent facilities. They used heavy machinery, equipment and gantry cranes to block the the movement of ships.
NYK Line’s car carrier Hyperion Highway was one of the ships being held. The navy said the ship was released and was on its way to the next port of call in Oman.
The other merchant ship named ‘MV Hoyanger’ was still berthed at the pier on December 10 and was yet to unload the cargo before it could proceed to the next port of call.
The naval personnel entered the Hambantota harbour premises by naval craft by the sea passage and boarded the two ships and its berthed pier, and brought the situation under the navy’s control having laid a cordon around the jetty area.
As a result of the protest, the shipping agent of ‘Hyperion Highway’ had to incur a total demurrage of USD 400,000 for the last 4 days of non-operation, the navy added.