Q1. What are the new things and changes you plan to carry out at CILT during your tenure as the chairman?
There are no major changes planned for the institute as the two chairmen immediately before me started lot of positive things for the institute. I wish to work on them and on improving them. Growing the membership and creating opportunities for members to have regular interactions are identified as critical among these for the success of the institute.
Lastly, there are some structural changes taking place as well. We now have a full time Secretary General and a new secretariat and we hope to use the increased resources to improve the efficiency of our membership services and also faster processing and turn time of new membership applications. Within the year we hope to upgrade the status of CILT Sri Lanka from a branch to a territory where we would among other benefits, also be able to process our own membership applications. Gaining territorial status will also boost the image of the institute globally.
Q2. As an emerging lucrative field Transport and Logistics Management has attracted many educational institutes. New courses on this field are on the up. What is the view of the CILT on these courses and their quality?
We have not done a study of the courses that are currently on offer out there in this field, so I am unable to comment on the quality of each individual course. However, CILT have recognised the degree offered by the University of Moratuwa to be of high quality and it has now been accredited by CILT. It is the first degree programme in the country to be accredited by CILT and I am fully aware of the quality of it as through Prof Amal Kumarage I was associated with it from the time of its inception through John Keells, who are strong supporters of the course.
The University of Colombo has also started a degree in Transport Economics with the involvement of Dr. Gunaruwan and it appears to be a promising course as well. Also, there are courses offered by CINEC and many other institutes focusing on different forms of transport and logistics. As a professional institute whilst we welcome professional offerings as they contribute to the national need for professionals in this field, we also recognise that there is a real threat associated with unscrupulous educational institutes offering a huge number of untested courses to unsuspecting candidates.
Q3. Is there any institute which offers academic support for the CILT examination?
There are. CINEC is an accredited service provider and as a result of the affiliation all the students in Transport and Logistics Management department in University of Moratuwa automatically becomes student members of the CILT. But CINEC is the only organisation that is providing CILT’s program at present. CILT has a very structured path from basic apprenticeship to post graduate qualification and what we would like to do is to make sure that all these are available on offer through professional and well equipped service providers.
Q3. There is a common perception among the professionals engaged in supply chain management that CILT does not include supply chain management and is only limited to Transportation and Logistics. Is there any truth in this?
It is a misconception. Actually, transport and logistics cover an integral part of supply chain management. Ultimately an effective supply chain is about efficiently coupling production with consumption and in that context transport and logistics lie at the core of any supply chain. Therefore, I believe it is incorrect to say that supply chain management is completely outside the scope of CILT.
Q4. With your professional exposure to the industry throughout the years how is the transport and logistics industry doing in the country at present? What are the challenges we face?
I believe that in all areas of domestic transport there is a huge room for improvement. I am certainly no expert in this area and acknowledge that the established infrastructure performs the task at present, but the efficiency in which it is executed is questionable and has much room for improvement. Three decades after the fact, consumers are yet to truly benefit from the privatisation of bus transportation. Rail transportation has seen little improvement over the past 50 years and still presents a large opportunity. Inefficient modes of private transport abound at a significant cost to the economy in terms of energy and time. Very broadly put, economic sense and efficient service must take precedence over narrow segmental interests and political expedience if we are to make quantum changes in these areas.
When it comes to international transportation, Sri Lanka has a huge role to play as a major hub in South Asia. We have been a hub for well over 25 years in terms of containerised ocean transport and have an efficient port in Colombo which is now operating virtually at full capacity. With the Colombo Port Expansion Plan new capacity is being added to the port that will address capacity constraints in the years ahead. Given our status as a container transshipment hub, there is no reason whatsoever why we cannot become a hub for other modes of transport as well. Given the fact that we are well located in the South Asian region, astride the busiest sea route in the world and are an entry point to potentially the second largest economy in the world in the future we have a great deal more we can do to exploit our advantages in the international arena.
Q5.Last question: What do you think of the E-Newsletter?
I think it is an excellent start and I enjoyed the issues up to now. The content is sound and attractively presented. I would like to congratulate the editorial team on their excellent effort and I am sure they will carry on the good work in the future as well.