Chaos and violence reigned as the Government’s law of transporting vegetables in plastic crates came into full force yesterday.
The strict implementation of the law aimed at minimising post-harvest waste of vegetable and fruits affected the fresh produce market severely and caused more wastage, according to reports.
Vendors in Dambulla and other areas which are popular for growing and wholesale marketing of vegetables protested, with some burning tyres, plastic crates, etc.
The flying squad of the Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) with the cooperation of the Army and Police had nabbed over 40 trucks carrying vegetables and fruits in gunny bags at the Peliyagoda new bridge and at Hanwella since midnight.
Several vehicles were seen parked at the Nawaloka playing grounds. The drivers of the trucks are to be prosecuted for using illegal transport methods, Colombo Page said.
Colombo Manning vegetable market was short of supplies due to the raid, market sources said.
The farmers meanwhile held an agitation before the Thambuttegama Economic Centre protesting the Government rules to make the use of plastic crates compulsory.
Minister of Trade and Cooperatives Johnston Fernando has taken measures to apprehend the violators since the law went into effect on 1 November making it compulsory to transport fresh produce using plastic containers or hard board. The authorities last week warned that they would start raids from 10 December and take action against violators of the law after learning that many traders were not abiding by the regulation on packaging.
The Government said that over 40% of fruits and vegetables were being wasted during transportation and the country was losing over Rs. 15 to 20 billion annually.
The law was previously postponed several times due to protests from the farmers and transporters who complained about the lack of resources.