Chaos in Colombo: Mêlée over jobs indicates a serious economic problem in Sri Lanka?
Anushka Wijesinha (who blogs here), a Research Economist at the Institute of Policy Studies, sent us these incredible photos and video of the chaos in Colombo today when thousands of Korean job seekers appeared for Korean exam applications at the Police Park down Havelock Road. Mainstream media reports a figure of 10,000, which going by the video and photos appear to be mostly young men.
In a speech by Dr. Anura Ekanayake, outgoing CCC chairman and IPS Board member, he noted that of the 4.5% unemployment rate overall in Sri Lanka, 18.1% of youth (age 15-24) are unemployed and within this around 10.7% of those qualified with A/Ls are unemployed.
Anushka observed that,
- Many were queuing from 5pm yesterday, which means they had spent the night on the pavements.
- By the time the centre closed at 11.15am (as was informed by the officials there to those gathered 3,500 applicants had been registered. There was at least 1,000 more in the queue at that point, who were turned away.
- Many had gone to the Kalutara centre and had been unsuccessful, and had came to to the Police Park centre today
- IPS did a snap survey of the profile of the applicants seeking work in Korea and the results will be published along with an article soon, on the blog www.ipslk.blogspot.com. Sample of around 50 youth.
- Preliminary results: majority were from Colombo, Kalutara, Gampaha, Matara, Galle and Hambantota districts (Emphasis ours)
- Majority of those interviewed in the snap survey had A/L as their highest qualification, with few even having degrees
- Yet, the majority stated they were seeking ‘any type of work’ or ‘manual labour’, while a minority were seeking specific occupations.
- The remaining crowd of youth were informed that they can try again at 28 other centres across the country
The route Anushka took down Havelock Road is plotted below, around 1.5km.
View Job applicants in a larger map
All photos above and the video by Anushka Wijesinha. More photos on Daily Mirror’s website.
Live updates from Anushka below.
At thummula, police park, no less than 2,500 youth queuing up for Korean job exams. Lot of pushing/shoving. Queue is close to 1km long
Queue starts at vajira rd junction, goes right thru upto Thummulla junction, plus more along Lauries road
While overall unemployment in Sri Lanka maybe just 4.5%, youth unemployment is a staggering 18.1%
At police park (thummulla) Korean job recruitment centre. Police informs that the centre is nw closed, 3,500 applicants. Crowd not happy
Police just closed road from thummulla to thimbirigasyaya direction, anticipating a bit of unrest as the centre closes, queue turned away
Korea job seekers still queuing on havelock rd, major traffic jam. As long as this morning. Some seated atop trees.
This despite foreign employment ministry request for job seekers to not all come to Colombo but go to any of the 29 other centres islandwide