Fear of repercussions led to some ministers, including himself, following a tight-mouthed policy during the Rajapaksa regime when many State assets were given without following procedures and led to building of an incomplete airport in Mattala, Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation Nimal Siripala de Silva told Parliament on Monday.
Revealing the dynamic which led the Government to go in search for investors for Mattala Airport, the Minister said: “In 2013 there were 574 workers at Mattala Airport and the number of passengers was 1,451. In 2014 the passenger numbers went up to 2,578 but came down to 1,044 in 2015 and 1,317 last year. This year the number increased to 1,274 passengers. In the absence of facilities, the airlines are not willing to land there. Planes don’t land at places we want. Mattala is not a complete airport, but half an airport. There are no hangars or other essential infrastructure required for an airport.”
“We kept our mouth shut when former President Mahinda Rajapaksa was giving away the Port City and land to Shangri La. How can the same investors who were good then now become wrong? We are not selling Mattala but looking for somebody for a joint venture,” he added.