As Colombo Municipal heads clash labs suffer

By Dilanthi Jayamanne

Investigations carried out by the Micro Biology Laboratory service and the City Analyst Laboratory facility of the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) have been affected due to clash between the CMC Commissioner and the Chief Medical Officer of the Public Health Department.

Employees of the two facilities yesterday alleged that the CMC Treasury had not paid them for the past ten months for the private investigations due to the dispute between the two heads of division.

A spokesman for the two facilities said that private investigations were carried out by the two laboratory facilities on food and water samples, stools, urine etc for the CMC. They were brought from hotels and other private organisations. A payment had to be made by the private institution or organisation for using council facilities and the reagents required to carry out the tests. The employees were paid a certain amount out of the funds levied by the Municipal Treasury on those tests.

Sources said the service had been in place for over 30 years. However an internal audit had been carried out following allegations leveled against the service claiming that it was illegal by certain interested parties.

The Public Health Department of the Council too had submitted its recommendations to the Internal Audit Department and thereafter an Audit report had been given to the Municipal Financial Committee.

Meanwhile the Treasury was directed by the Financial Committee and the CMC on December 30 to pay the two laboratory employees.

However, the local government commissioner had blocked the implementation of the directive and ordered fresh investigation, sources said.

The spokesman said that the Chief Medical Officer of Health had made a special appeal to them during last year’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting to continue with the private investigations to ensure the safety of food, water and hygienic condition of employees in eateries and hotels. However, the two facilities are seriously considering stopping the extra work.

Chief Medical Officer of the Public Health Department, Dr. Pradeep Kariyawasam, when contacted, said that the PHD was faced with a dilemma. However the Mayor had been informed of the latest development which was threatening the functions of PHD laboratory services.

The Acting Mayor, Titus Perera said however that the payments should be made if the Council had approved same.

The Municipal Commissioner and the Treasurer could not be contacted for comment.

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