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11th July 1999

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Certainly a poser

This is the story about the procurement of 350,000 metres of olive green uniform material for the Sri Lanka Army.

There are whispers in the corridors of Army Headquarters that the main contender, a manufacturer in China, had two representatives bidding, one a State trading arm and the other, a private firm.

Although Letters of Credit were open, insiders say, the pre production sample supplied by the State organisation has been rejected. That is reportedly on a Standards Bureau assessment.

They say the private firm has now won the tender. The State trading arm offered it at US dollars 1.79 a metre whilst the private firm is said to have offered it at US dollars 2.15 a metre.

If it is one and the same product, that is certainly a poser for the Army Commander, Lt. Gen. Srilal Weerasooriya. After all, the price difference is substantial.

One hopes there will be no probes on how this leaked to the media, like in the case of the infamous Body Armour deal which the Army has now rejected.

Hasty retreat

The war between PLOT and TELO is far from over although the security forces have disarmed both groups.

Last week, a TELO top man, who lived in a flat in the Colombo suburbs, made a hasty retreat to Singapore. He learnt that a hit squad was out to kill him. The men concerned had mounted reconnaisance around his flat.

Intelligence sources say the hit squad was made up of members of Colombo's underworld. They had reportedly been paid a handsome amount by a PLOT big man.

Stale food

Military radio intercepts of Tiger guerrilla communications ahead of defences in Mankulam were in for an amusing story early this week.

One base reported to another that guerrilla cadres distributing cooked meals were assaulted. This was after the armed cadres holed up in positions facing Mankulam complained that stale food packets had been delivered to them.

Poor planning

Urgent demands from field commanders in battle areas for Body Armour for troops have put officials at Army Headquarters in a quandary.

There are 3,000 pieces stored in an Army depot quantity that has been rejected by the Army after they failed suitability tests. Pressure moves are afoot to persuade the Army to accept the consignment on the grounds that unsuccessful rival suppliers were responsible for scuttling the deal. But senior Army officials are adamant the stocks that arrived would not be suitable for soldiers.

Fresh stocks would take more time since tenders will have to be called for. Even the deal which now remains rejected took nearly two years.

Again a case of poor planning. Troops have to wait until military bureaucracy gets over formalities for Body Armour to save their dear lives !!!


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