By Priti Naik
Amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the new crew change in Chennai Port is witnessing delays due to stringent Covid-19 protocols and mandatory RTPCR negative report. Although quarantine protocols and RTPCR reports were need for those having symptoms and tested positive, the Chennai Port representatives stated that they were following the standard operating procedure (SOP) laid by the Shipping industry.
The crew members on the ship change alternatively and this changing exercise is being delayed due to increasing pandemic cases and also restrictions imposed in different states. The officers serve for four to six months and sailors nine to 10 months, before being replaced with the new crew members. Majority of the sailors come from Delhi and officers from Chennai. The delay in appointing new crew is mainly because of the tests and restrictions imposed if tested positive.
The Chennai Port Trust stated that the seafarers in India have to follow a standard operating procedure which starts from their home till they reach the port. And when they are onboard, there are other set of rules they are required to follow as instructed by the Ministry. This includes pre-arrival check and post arrival checks.
Speaking to Littoral Communications, Captain Sanjay Prashar, managing director, VM Maritime, was quoted as saying, “The Indian seafarers are facing immense disruption because of the pandemic. As we follow the standard operating procedures (SOP) there has been delay in change of crew members because of which the previous crew which is onboard has to continue beyond their contract. Almost 22% of the seafarers have tested positive. With one being affected, it lays a huge impact on all others onboard.”
Due to heavy restrictions and quarantine protocol instructed by the government, the shipping industry is witnessing huge negative impact. With one being infected, the entire crew members onboard will have to be under the radar.