Work produced by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) to provide seafarers with a workable solution within safe working limits during the Covid-19 outbreak has been praised by the director of Maritime at class society DNV GL.
In an exclusive interview with Container News Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen said that the proposals from the ICS were “very good” and that the “Authorities should let go of the fear factor and agree the concrete proposals,” adding, “I wish it could happen tomorrow”.
Ørbeck-Nilssen believes that there is a fear amongst regional authorities of spreading the Coronavirus should seafarers be allowed to transfer off ships at the end of their period of employment, this has led to an estimated 150,000 seafarers being stranded aboard vessels since the virus spread out of China in February of this year.
According to DNV GL the maritime community has been caught under-prepared for the pandemic, but Ørbeck-Nilssen argues that seafarers are crucial to the global economy.
“What we thought was a pretty robust system, we realised was quite fragile, but it affects 90% of the global economy, which shows the system’s vulnerability,” said Ørbeck-Nilssen.
He went on to say the problem “has now gone on too long, some authorities are refusing to recognise seafarers as key or essential workers, but seafarers are essential,” emphasised Ørbeck-Nilssen.
According to the class society the difficulties for the maritime sector have arisen through fear and a culture of everyone looking after themselves. It is a fear of introducing the virus through ports and airports into the country, “Bad decisions are made out of fear,” he said.
Concerns among the industry go beyond class with the fear among some industry commentators that regional regulations will be imposed, and that would be a terrible thing for the industry said one carrier source, who wanted to remain anonymous.
“Local politicians are more concerned about their electorate and protecting them rather than solving the problem of foreign seafarers, who don’t have a vote,” said the source.