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On the occasion of international Labour Day, May 1, it is more important than ever to remember the critical role played by seafarers in continuing to transport food, medicines and other essential goods during the Covid-19 pandemic, says Intercargo.

Dimitris Fafalios, Intercargo chairman, said: “Seafarers must not be forgotten in these extraordinary times.” He continued: “The issue of crew change must be at the top of the industry’s agenda. Seafarers are amongst the world’s key workers, vital to the global transportation chain.

“All maritime nations, ports and airports should, as a matter of urgency, permit the travel in/out and sign-on/off of seafarers, with the necessary safety procedures, allowing them to join from and repatriate to their countries of residence with seafarer’s documents and without visas, while the consulates are closed in the seafarers’ countries of residence.

“Without efficient crew changes, the supply chain would break down leading to basic product shortages and greater hardships for people around the world.”

Jay K. Pillai, vc of the dry bulk shipowners’ association, said: “it must be remembered some seafarers may have served their 4 - 9 months tour of duty and are not able to be relieved even after serving 12 months or more on board ship. Not only do they deserve our full  support, empathy and compassion, but we must also consider the safety implications of the fatigue and depression that are an almost inevitable result of a seafarer being unable to re-unite with their family after such a long time on board  while their families back home are enduring these challenging circumstances.

“Maritime authorities of port states should join hands with their immigration departments to empathise with crews, our unsung heroes at sea, treat them as key workers as requested by the Imo secretary general and permit crew change without undue restrictions in their ports to ensure safety at sea and of their territorial waters,” said Pillai.

Filed: 2020-04-28