WALVIS BAY – As the world continues to battle the growing number of coronavirus infections, at least eight passenger liners that were expected to dock at the Port of Walvis Bay suspended all activities around the world.
The worldwide restrictions ironically came days after coastal residents raised concern over the Covid-19 virus after the Aidamira passenger liner with over 1 600 passengers docked on Thursday last week at Walvis Bay.
Most of the passenger liners suspended operations end of April and could have financial implications for several countries including Namibia. Namport was expecting at least 10 passenger liners to dock before the end of May.
This will see a drastic decline in tourism activities at the coastal town.
Namport’s acting CEO Kavin Harry said at a media briefing on Friday that the ports authority cannot allow a vessel to enter the port before it has been cleared by the health ministry.
Additionally, Harry said Namport also refers to the security profile of every vessel that is supposed to dock at the port and only ships which have visited at ports that are classified as security level 1 are allowed to come into the country.
“Aidamira in particular operates between Namibia and South Africa and not Angola as claimed on Thursday and was properly screened upon her arrival at the Lüderitz port, he explained on Friday.
Namport commercial executive Immanuel !Hanabeb also explained that before a vessel arrives on Namibian shores, its agent is required to provide all background documentation to the Ministry of Health and Social Services about its last port of call, among other information.
“Once the port, mandated by MoHSS is satisfied with all the required documentation, it certifies the vessel as clear of any contagious diseases,” !Hanabeb explained.
He added that strict screening measures are adhered to ensure the health and safety of passengers and crew on-board, before disembarking the vessel while initial screenings occur upon boarding the vessel to start their journey.
“Any passenger suspected to be infected with the coronavirus will be isolated on board, and if need be evacuated as per port health procedures,” he said.
The vessel will in this case also be quarantined and if any crewmember presents a high temperature of more than 38 degrees and possible history of exposure, he/she will be isolated in the hospital room on board of the ship, Harry explained.
All international foreign vessels calling at the Port of Walvis Bay are required to forward shipping pages to Namport, to the department of maritime affairs and the ministry of health. They also have to present a list of the last 10 ports, should that list include countries that are affected with coronavirus, additional information needs to be forwarded which include crew list, vaccination list, port clearance certificates amongst others,” said Harry.
Both Namport and Swakopmund Uranium imposed travel bans on Thursday as a measure to minimise Covid-19 exposure.
Harry in an internal memo told Namport employees that all work related trips outside Namibia including studies have been halted or prohibited until further notice.
“All colleagues who are currently traveling outside Namibia must quarantine themselves at home for 14 days upon their return before they are allowed back at work,” Harry said. The employees however are expected to work from home during this period and report for duty remotely to their supervisors.
Swakop Uranium issued a 23-page booklet to its employees to create awareness about Covid-19 and at the same time suspend all business trips for its employees to minimise the risk of exposure to the coronavirus.
According to the plan, business-critical travels require prior approval through the Covid-19 management team.
Eveline de Klerk
2020-03-16 07:17:08 | 22 days ago