Alonsi delivering his address at the press briefing
THE GHANA Maritime Authority has appealed to government to recognize seafarers as key workers who provide essential services that are crucial to the Covid-19 pandemic fight.
Acting Director General (DG) of the authority, Thomas Kofi Alonsi, who made the appeal, was speaking at a ceremony to mark the International Day of Seafarers on Thursday in Accra.
Speaking on the theme, “Seafarers Are Key Workers: Essential To Shipping, Essential To The World”, he said under circumstances where sea transport was known to account for 80 per cent of global trade by volume and over 70 per cent of global trade by value, seafarers in Ghana should be given the needed support in their line of duty.
He indicated that seafarers had become “collateral victims” of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic as they were relied upon to transport essential commodities, which included vital food and medical goods, energy and raw materials, as well as manufactured goods across the globe.
“Travel restrictions have left tens of thousands of them stranded on ships, or unable to join ships. Many have already been on tours of duty significantly longer than the 11 months prescribed by the International Labour Organization (ILO) as the maximum length of seafarers’ contract.
“We share with the seafarer today the personal frustration that prevails at sea and the exposure to sorrowful exile of life on the sea as the seafarer pursues a career which is a vital support mechanism for the global economy,” he said.
He said in line with advice from the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the authority has introduced five new protocols within the context of the Covid-19 pandemic in order to protect seafarers in the country.
Such protocols, he mentioned, included a recommended framework of protocols for ensuring safe ship crew changes and travel, industry guidance for ship operators for the protection of the health of seafarers and recommendations on facilitating the movement of offshore energy sector personnel.
Other protocols included guidelines relating to the certification of seafarers as well as operational considerations for managing Covid-19 cases/outbreak on board ships.
Medical Needs Of Seafarers
Mr Alonsi said that the authority had continuously been monitoring the Covid-19 situation at shore and would continue to work closely with port facilities to ensure that seafarers on board ships who were in need of immediate medical care were given access to medical facilities on shore.
He also commended Ghanaian seafarers for their dedication and hard work towards sustaining the maritime sector of the country especially within these critical times.
By Issah Mohammed