The Official E-Newsletter of the Institution of Engineers Sri Lanka   |  Issue 51 - February 2021


Eng. Suran Fernando  

Real Engineering Independence!

Dear Members & Readers,

Sri Lanka celebrated seventy-three years of independence from the colonial rule just few days ago. Though we are not governed by the foreign masters now, it is questionable whether we really are an independent nation due to many a reason. Engineering independence is a vital subset of socio-economic independence of the country. Though we can comfortably blame the politicians for our subservience, the engineering community is a party that should bear a significant portion of the responsibility about this current uncomfortable status.

The term ‘engineer’ is derived from the Latin word ‘ingenerare’ and its meaning is ‘one who creates’. Engineers are creators. We must show the society that we are capable of doing the impossible. This is nothing new but engineering. This is the much-awaited transformation that Sri Lankan engineers should take the lead for the betterment of the country. Here the role of IESL as the apex body of engineering is vital and decisive.

We can recall the most recent struggle that engineers together with IESL made on the East Container Terminal (ECT) of Colombo Port. At a time when the government decided to handover the 49% of its stake to a foreign company, the engineers in the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) strongly stood against that decision. As the party who designed and operated the ECT, the engineers made their intervention based on facts and figures. They proved their capability in designing the remaining parts of the ECT and operating it then after. They together with other teams expressed their solidarity to protect this strategic national asset. The IESL too conveyed its official stance on the East Container Terminal issue to His Excellency the President, Hon. Prime Minister and the Cabinet of Ministers. IESL requested the HE the President to keep the East Container Terminal of the Colombo Port totally under SLPA control and not allow any foreign or non-state entities to take even the slightest control of its operations or ownership. This is the true leadership from the apex body of engineering in the country.

Being a prestigious professional organization, IESL cannot act as a political group or a trade union. That is why these specific interventions should be duly backed by firm intellectual studies in order to secure the national interest rather than targeting cheap publicity. We should strongly make our objections against inappropriate engineering projects but should essentially give our alternative solutions to the issues concerned. This is how we should maintain the engineering independence.

That was the same strategy that IESL employed few years back when making national level involvements related to the Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with India and Singapore. Similarly, this is what IESL currently doing related to the proposed UDA Regulations. When the UDA attempted to gazette the regulations done in a hurry with no consultation with the professional bodies, IESL strongly objected the UDA’s move. Knowing that UDA Regulations will directly impinge on the development of the country, which is too an objective of IESL, we then agreed to support the UDA in drafting all the engineering related content in a proper way. This is the role of IESL by being a change agent for the betterment of the nation.

This is the engineering independence that we are talking of. This is the transformation that IESL has been undergoing for the last few years or decades. We, the engineers should get together to strengthen this transformation to achieve the real national engineering independence.

Wish you all the best!

Eng. Suran Fernando
Editor, SLEN


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