By EDDIE OSIFELO
ABOUT 50 international vessels arrived in Solomon Islands in July.
Chairman of the Vessel Exemption Committee, Dr Jimmie Rodgers confirmed through virtual meeting from Fiji to media during a press conference in Cabinet on Wednesday.
These include four vessels, 15 cargo vessels, four tankers carrying fuel and gas, 18 fishing vessels and nine logging vessels.
Rodgers said the VEC has strict protocol to impose on ships coming to Solomon Islands.
“The most important thing is where has the ship being in the last two months and particularly the last 21 days.
“The second is the crew lists, where crew join, at what time, which country,” he said.
“So, if the crew join in Papua New Guinea, it means that it is a high-risk country.
“That mean we need to test the crew even if he had test already when he comes to Solomon Islands.”
Furthermore, Rodgers said the minimum cost for logging vessels is $68,000 for one test and $100,000 for two tests.
He said in the vessel quarantine, the highest they raised was $170,000.
Rodgers said one objective of VEC is to reduce risks of bringing covid 19 in through ships to Solomon Islands.
“So far in Solomon Islands, we have recorded formally seven positive cases that came through ships.
“But they are not recorded under Solomon Islands, because under covid protocol they are recorded under conveyance of ships,” he said.
“So, it doesn’t do injustice to the country because the country did not bring them in,” he said.
Moreover, Rodgers said about 70 of the country’s containers come from Papua New Guinea.
“If we put 14 days to ships coming from PNG, we say goodbye to the ships.
“Even if 5 days, they threaten to bypass Solomon Islands, this is not good for our economy,” he said.
Therefore, the VEC focuses on the safety and also manages the risk as well.