The Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) yesterday in a statement said the Sri Lankan apparel industry is resilient despite internal and external challenges arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The situation with regard to the apparel industry in Sri Lanka is currently fluid but certainly not volatile. Time-tested systems of crisis management are in place and the industry is coping very well given the circumstances,” JAAF said.
“We are a country that has faced 30 years of war and dealing with disruption is second nature to us. Our civil administration, like before, is working closely with the armed forces to quickly contain the second wave of COVID-19 in the island and the industry is being wholly cooperative in supporting their efforts,” JAAF added.
Having said that, JAAF said the industry is also aware that there are certain flashpoints that have to be looked at carefully and dealt with.
“We are learning from some mistakes that may have been made – mainly, that we cannot let our guard down at any point when dealing with this deadly virus,” it said.
JAAF also said from about a couple of months prior to the second wave, Sri Lanka was gradually going into a position of complacency. “Our virus infection numbers and fatalities were just a drop in the bucket compared to other countries and this was a matter of pride to us, because we believed we had won the war against the virus. The sudden eruption took us all unawares – how it happened and where it all began is still unknown, and the relevant Government authorities, as well as the apparel industry are looking for answers.”
“We learn from the media that there is a possibility of some transit foreign nationals causing the second wave and that intelligence units are investigating, but it is not conclusive. The Brandix factory in Minuwangoda, like the rest of the country, is a victim of the prevailing situation.”
As of now there are various in-depth investigations ongoing to find out the root cause, but that has not deterred Sri Lanka or the industry from keeping up with economic activities. Meanwhile, authorities continue to carefully manage lockdown measures.
“The JAAF is closely monitoring the situation, and it is our understanding that local apparel factories have adjusted to current conditions, and coupled with effective countermeasures taken by the authorities, production is gradually moving back on track. A primary concern of this industry is the domestic migrant worker from other areas of the country, who is housed away from home and therefore is in a more vulnerable category. But this too is being managed, under the scrutiny of public health inspectors, who operate on set guidelines of the Health Ministry and the Sri Lanka Army.
“We believe some pain is inevitable for all of us before we see the light at the end of the tunnel, but as a nation and industry we are resilient, we have faced adversity and won, therefore it is with confidence that we say the apparel industry will come out of this crisis stronger than before.