Sri Lanka Telecom and Mobitel, the nation’s leading Integrated communication services providers join hands with the Ministry of Telecommunication and Information Technology to support the Disaster Management Centre to help victims hit by heavy rains and subsequent floods that have occurred in the northern and eastern parts of our country, especially in Kalkudai and Ampara areas. Sri Lanka Telecom and Mobitel believe that it is a responsibility of the company to support the government in its disaster relief efforts to help people stranded in flood affected areas.
At a Press Conference held on 16th January regarding the government’s disaster relief efforts, Hon. Ranjith Siyambalapitiya, Minister of Telecommunications and Information Technology gave his comments, saying, “Due to the heavy rains and subsequent flooding that occurred during the past few weeks in the Northern and Eastern parts of Sri Lanka, especially in the Pollonnaruwa and Madakalapuwa Districts, a large number of people living in those areas have been severely affected and displaced. Not only their homes and possessions were affected, but they have also lost their clothing and school books have also been destroyed. At such a time as this, I believe that it is our duty and responsibility to come forward and provide some sort of relief to our own brothers and sisters who have been affected by these floods. We would like to announce that the newly formed Ministry of Telecommunication and IT together with Sri Lanka Telecom and Mobitel, (two organizations that come under the purview of the Ministry of Telecommunications and IT) have embarked on disaster relief projects, which were commenced today, to provide essential items to the flood victims in affected areas.”
The severe flooding has had a devastating impact on the general public and many SLT customers, and has also affected the company’s network, disrupting telephone services in these areas. The Company assures its customers and the public that SLT staff are working around the clock to restore services and to support national disaster relief efforts.
The Disaster Recovery Management team of SLT is in the process of enabling all its regional offices and field maintenance centers as collection centers for essential goods for distribution to flood victims. The company, together with the Ministry of Telecommunication & IT and the Disaster Management Centre will co-ordinate the distribution of collected goods amongst the flood victims. SLT will maintain records of donors including their name, description of collected items, quantity and the name of the person handing over the items and the company will assume responsibility for the proper and safe storage of collected items until they are handed over to the relevant authorities for distribution. The company’s island wide offices will be open to receive goods from the public with effect from 17th January.
SLT has also made telephone facilities available to the public at its island wide Regional Offices and also at the flood victim camps to enable essential telephone calls to be made ‘free-of-charge’ to and from camps, to enable people to communicate with their loved ones in affected areas, free of charge during this disaster situation.
SLT and its fully owned subsidiary Mobitel will also encourage and enable our customers to donate by sending a text message from their Mobitel mobile phone or SLT CDMA fixed phone to the special number “5050”, the customer will be charged Rs 10 for each text message which will be matched Rupee for Rupee by SLT or Mobitel as the case may be and donated to the relief efforts. To donate, our customer simply needs to send the message email@example.com to the special number 5050.
Commenting on the flood situation in the country, and the role played by SLT in relief efforts, Nimal Welgama, Chairman of SLT said, “The recent flood situation is very disturbing and our hearts go out to the many families that have been affected. As the National Communication Provider, it is our responsibility to come forward and support our nation during this difficult time. The Disaster Recovery Team of SLT and all other SLT staff are working tirelessly to restore the communications network to provide maximum assistance and support to relief efforts and personnel.”
Greg Young, Chief Executive Officer of SLT added, “We have watched with sadness and concern the devastating effects of these floods. SLT will do our maximum to help the people affected and the army, navy, police and air force personnel who are battling to provide urgent aid to flood victims in the country. We encourage our customers to consider donating to these relief efforts through our special text message program, details of how to contribute will be sent by text to all our Fixed CDMA and the Mobitel customers. In addition, SLT offices will be open to the public from 17th January to receive donations for distribution to flood victims and we urge donors to generously provide your support especially for priority needs such as clean water, food and clothes.”