Panchikawatta, a household name for motorists
A row of spare part shops Pix: by Vipula Amarasinghe
Panchikawatta is a household name for motor spare parts. Thousands of
people visit the location for motor spare parts daily.
A Sri Lankan citizen in Australia compares Panchikawatta to a well
equipped supermarket in Australia where customers could buy whatever
items they need under one roof. Customers could also purchase original
and reconditioned parts from Panchikawatta.
South Indian merchants
History records that during the colonial era South Indian traders,
Muslims and a locals did business at Panchikawatta. Many of them had
acquired idle lands and commenced various business activities.
Majority Sinhala traders called these plots of lands as wattas.
There were six other wattas (blocks of lands) in close proximity to
the main Panchikawatta area. Some of them are Maligawatta, the Tyre
House Watta, Technical Watta, Cycle Watta, Alahakoon Watta and
Some wealthy businessmen of Somapala Motors, Buddhadasa Company,
Orient Motors and National Motors in motor spare parts business at
Panchikawatta during 1960s used comfortable vehicles such as Morris
Minor, Volkswagen, Chevrolet, Bedford, Hillman, Humber and Vauxhall.
These vehicles were imported from America, England, Germany, Italy
and many other countries.
The Sunday Observer met several wholesale and retail motor spare part
shop owners and merchants at Panchikawatta and Maliga watta.
Sena Motor Stores (Pvt) Ltd, Chairman and Managing Director A.A.
Piyasena who has been in the spare parts business for the past several
years said that motor spare parts are divided into three categorises,
such as genuine, original and reconditioned.
“All motor spare parts that are manufactured by Toyota, Mitsubishi,
Maruti, Nissan or any other parent company in Japan, Korea, Italy,
Thailand, Malaysia, China , India, England or America are genuine,” he
Spare parts manufactured without the permission of the parent company
are original parts while spare parts that are used and removed from
vehicles are reconditioned.
He said agents of parent companies sell only genuine parts. They also
sell large stocks to private traders. A majority of Sri Lankan customers
purchase original and reconditioned parts.
Piyasena, an all-island JP and President of Lanka Motor Spare Parts
Dealers Association said the objective of forming the Association is to
protect the traditional spare parts business at Panchikawatta.
He said the Association does plenty of welfare activities. The
Association contributed Rs. 3.3 million towards the National Security
Fund several years ago.
He said the Association constructed two houses in Wadduwa for four
tsunami affected families.
He said he travels overseas to purchase genuine spare parts such as
brake pads, clutch linings, filters, boot pads and clutch plates.
Geethani Motors owner Harsha Kathriachchi warned customers who visit
Panchikawatta not to seek the help of brokers when buying spare parts
and he urged them to buy parts from shops.
Harsha said that customers complain that parking facilities are
inadequate in Panchikawatta. He urged authorities to provide adequate
He said many customers think that quality spare parts are
manufactured only in Japan.
“All countries manufacture genuine parts.
Shop owners tell customers about the quality of the spare part before
selling,” he said
He said there are nearly 15 wholesale dealers and over 300 spare part
shops in Panchiikawatta.
He called upon customs authorities to implement a program to release
goods without delaying.
Sriyan Gamage, a spare part dealer said, customers come to
Panchikawatta since shop owners in some areas sell products at
As there is no control price for motor spare parts, some shop owners
sell items at exorbitant rates. Therefore, I appeal to shop owners to
refrain from selling spare parts at high prices.
He said Panchikawatta is famous for spare parts for four wheel
vehicles , including cars, vans, lorries and buses.
While Jayantha Weerasekara Mawatha is famous for motor cycle spare
parts. Pradeepa Mawatha is famous for spare parts used for
A shop owner at Panchikawatta , Mahinda Samarage said there are about
six wattas at Panchikawatta and customers could buy only used spare
parts of local motorists.
He said a person who is interested in opening a motor spare parts
shop in his area could start with a small capital and thereafter expand
He also said there are facilities at Panchikawatta for people to
manufacture spare parts and it has become another reason for customers
to visit Panchikawatta from distant areas. He said in addition to
Panchikawatta, motor spare parts are also sold at Delkanda in Nugegoda
where imported reconditioned parts are avilable.