LEADER of Opposition Matthew Wale is concerned with the actions alleged to have been taken by the shipping agent of MV Chefoo recently, which was in direct breach of the Standard Operating Procedures governing the clearance of foreign ships.
Wale said he is quite concerned that officers of the shipping agent boarded the ship before it was cleared by the Health team, thus endangering not just their own health safety but also that of the community.
Wale has cautioned the Oversight committee to pay particular attention to this shipping agent, stressing that there is the suspicion that this shipping agent is given special treatment by the Oversight committee in the clearance of their vessels.
“This, if true, may pose a risk to the SOPs not being thoroughly followed,” the Opposition Leader said.
He calls on the Oversight Committee to investigate this matter, and if confirmed to be true, there must be some punitive measures taken against this particular shipping agent and its officers involved.
Further, he expressed grave concern about the lack of enforcement of SOPs on log ships.
The Opposition Leader said he has received reliable information that a number of log ships were not cleared by health teams but proceeded to allow local stevedores to come onboard and head to log ponds to load their cargo. The stevedores live on board for several days as they do their work.
“This is a terrible gap in the country’s Covid preparedness and fight. If true, this poses a significant risk to the country’s health safety.
“These local stevedores return to their families and communities after loading without being tested and the risk to their communities and the wider country cannot be overlooked.
“This matter has been left as it is for too long, it is worse than negligence,” Wale added.
The Opposition Leader therefore calls on the Prime Minister to take immediate steps to eliminate these risks. And review the enforcement of SOPs on foreign log ships.