Fertiliser fiasco: Cargo ship carrying rejected Chinese fertiliser denied entry to Colombo Port

Sri Lanka’s Shipping Minister Rohitha Abeygunawardena has said he has instructed officials at Colombo Port to deny any request by a ship carrying rejected Chinese fertilizer from unloading the cargo in Colombo

Nov 08, 2021
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Cargo ship carrying rejected Chinese fertiliser denied entry to Colombo Port

Sri Lanka’s Shipping Minister Rohitha Abeygunawardena has said he has instructed officials at Colombo Port to deny any request by a ship carrying rejected Chinese fertilizer from unloading the cargo in Colombo. The bulk carrier Hippo Spirit is carrying tonnes of rejected Chinese fertilizer from Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group Co., Ltd to Sri Lanka, UNI news agency said quoting Sri Lankan media.

What is important to note is that the Hippo Spirit decided to reach Colombo for replenishment, after passing the Hambantota and Galle Ports, which were located along its route to Colombo, local websites said. 

The Chinese Embassy in Colombo in a clarification on the rejected fertilizer samples by M/S Qingdao Seawin said the Ceylon Fertilizer Company received samples of the fertilizer on July 28 and the National Plant Quarantine Service (NPQS) should have done its tests on them before awarding the bid, signing the contract and awarding the import permit.

Sri Lanka’s State Fertilizer Companies that ordered the fertilizer from China told newsfirst.lk that the samples mentioned by the Chinese Embassy were not received by Sri Lanka in an official capacity. They said that 10 samples each weighing 1 kg should have been sent to Sri Lanka for testing, as per procedure. However, Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group Co., Ltd sent only 500 g for tests.

They also said that such a small sample cannot be released to the National Plant Quarantine Service for tests. The second sample was sent in August and the NPQS confirmed in September that it was contaminated with harmful bacteria. The State Fertilizer Companies also noted that after Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group Co. Ltd was informed about the test results, the local agent of the Chinese company went with police protection and submitted a sample for a third time.

However, the State Fertilizer Companies said by the time the samples were handed over again, Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group Co., Ltd had already deployed the Hippo Spirit with a consignment of Organic Fertilizer, to Sri Lanka. But the ship was diverted to Singapore after harmful bacteria was detected in the samples of this shipment of fertilizer.

However, the Hippo Spirit ship didn’t turn back and left Singapore declaring it would be heading to Colombo Port. Data available online showed the Hippo Spirit ship in Hambantota on 24th October under the name Seiyo Explorer.

Meanwhile, Chinese Organic Fertilizer manufacturer Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group Co. Ltd has said they reserve the right to pursue legal action against the party issuing test reports violating the scientific test results and the media who falsely disseminates the test results. The statement read “It is incomprehensible that Sri Lanka has does not honour the contracts and mislead its people with false test results at a time of soaring global fertilizer prices and shortage.”

It added that the raw materials used in the organic fertilizer which it exported to Sri Lanka are humic acid, amino acid, seaweed, and that these raw materials themselves do not contain the harmful bacteria Erwinia as reported by Colombo, and claimed that they are very safe and high-efficiency organic fertilizer.

(SAM)