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Fishing sector assures workers on corona

2020-03-17  Eveline de Klerk

Fishing sector assures workers on corona
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SWAKOPMUND – Chairperson of the confederation of Namibian fishing industries Matti Amukwa, says the fishing industry is safe for now in terms of the Coronavirus, recently declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Amukwa was responding to concerns raised yesterday about employees in the fishing sector in terms of their safety when two positive cases were reported in Windhoek, resulting in the closure of schools and a ban on public gatherings by President Hage Geingob on Saturday.

The industry employs about 14 000 people; the sector contributes significantly to the country’s economy and is regarded as one of the most health and safety conscious sectors.

The virus, since its outbreak in December in Wuhan, China, has killed 6 685 people, while 174 615 people have tested positive for the virus in the world. 77 867 people are said to have recovered from the virus.
 “There are fears, but we are safe for now, but we are not taking anything for granted and will protect our employees at all cost,” he said.

He added that the sector will also put further stringent measures in place to protect its employees.
The Trade Union Congress of Namibia (TUN) president, Paulus Hango, yesterday also told New Era that closure of the fishing sector is not an option at this stage but they will consult with the relevant companies for more safety measures.

“The industry, overall, places high emphasis on health and safety and has been working with safety gear such as gloves and face masks for years now. It is just a matter of creating more awareness so that they are more alert in terms of the Covid-19 virus,” he said.

Hango then appealed to companies just to ensure their foreign employees, who are on vessels that are currently not in the country but will be returning for work, to be quarantined for 14 days before they go back to work. Especially those who work on vessels. 

“We know we have a lot of foreign captains that go home when their shifts change and some of them are from high-risk countries, so they must be quarantined before boarding vessels; otherwise, we will be exposing our fishermen,” he said.

Hango said employees must remain calm, as it is very risky to impose restrictions on the sector; it will affect many households financially.

President of the Namibia Fishing Industries & Fisherman Workers Union (NFI) Daniel Imbili also said restrictions or closing the factories even for a week or two will have dire financial implications for companies and employees, and could lead to severe financial implications. 

“We should not panic but we must monitor that situation, as no person, so far, tested positive at Walvis Bay. For now, we will assess the situation day-by-day and take necessary action when it comes to that,” he said.

2020-03-17  Eveline de Klerk

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