Covid rules delay crew change at port | Chennai News

CHENNAI: Strict Covid-19 protocols that include mandatory negative RTPCR test results have resulted in long delays in crew changes on ships in the port of Chennai.
While representatives of the shipping industry insist that the RTPCR and quarantine procedures are only needed when a person tests positive or exhibits symptoms, officials at Chennai Port Trust (CPT) said to YOU ​​that they were simply following the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) established by the Union Department of Transport.
Ships change crews periodically – officers serve four to six months and sailors nine to 10 months – before being replaced by a new crew. This crew change exercise is on hold due to the increase in Covid-19 cases and subsequent restrictions in different states in India.
The crew change centers are Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi. A majority of the engineers come from Chennai while the sailors come from Delhi. They cannot board ships due to testing and restrictions and the need for quarantine if they test positive. Thus, ships are forced to lengthen the working hours of their crew. Officers are forced to work for nine to ten months while the number of months increases further for sailors.
Sanjay Prashar, Managing Director of VM Maritime, said: “We are faced with a special situation. About 22% of the sailors who joined the team in the last week tested positive, which had a negative impact on the change of crew and the takeover of ships by Indian sailors. Over the next four weeks, the RTPCR at the port junction will cause disruption. As a result, seafarers who work on ships must continue beyond their contract. ”
A senior Chennai Port Trust (CPT) officer said port management strictly follows the standard 24-hour operating procedure. Under this protocol, seafarers will be required to follow certain procedures from the time they are taken. leave their homes until they reach the port. Once on the ship, they must strictly follow another set of rules established by the ministry, he said. There are pre-arrival and post-arrival checks, followed by a search of the expedition crew. For example, when a sailor disembarks at a hotel, to reach his room on the first or second floor, the sailor is advised to use the stairs instead of an elevator.
“Even customs and immigration authorities have been asked not to take crew members to their rooms for checks. We asked them to do everything online. If a crew is affected, it will have a serious impact on the entire crew traveling on ships, ”said the official.
Sailors Society Community Development Officer Manoj Joy said sailors are already physically stressed due to restrictions on their air travel. Further delays and testing are an additional problem for them, he said.

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