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TRADE ASSOCIATION URGES IMO TO ACT ON SINGAPORE CREW REPATRIATION

Wednesday, August 19, 2020 

InterManager the international trade association for ship and crew managers has published an open letter addressed to IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim, on behalf of its members and associates, urging IMO to offer more support to the global maritime industry with regards to the Singaporean repatriation issue.

Several major seaports throughout Asia have tightened crew change restrictions and stepped up screening of seafarers in recent weeks as the coronavirus stages a global resurgence. The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore recently issued correspondence stating that “the MPA will be giving priority to crew change applications from Singapore-registered ships and applications for sign-off crew only, without signing-on new crew,” a release which has prompted InterManager to issue an open plea to the IMO’s Secretary-General.

InterManager Secretary-General Capt Kuba Szymanski said: “If the same rules issued by the MPA of Singapore were applied to all Flag States, it would pose a very dangerous narrative, as ships of other Flag States would not be allowed to perform crew changes anywhere in the world. We – ship managers – would be unable to change off-signing crew because they would immediately be in breach of safe manning regulations. We completely understand the concerns that Singapore has, and we support their efforts to look after their citizens. However, no ships means no supplies, so a collaboration between the shipping sector and local administration is of paramount importance, and needs to be a two-way street.”

The measures implemented by the MPA of Singapore follow a set of 'best practices' issued on 24 July in light of a resurgence of coronavirus cases, which included isolation periods for on-boarding and off-boarding crews, as well as virus testing. InterManager believes that the restrictions imposed on non-Singapore-registered vessels creates a myriad of issues to the safety of seafarers, and presents a significant breach of seafarers’ humanitarian rights.

“Their approach is everything but human-centric,” said Capt Szymanski. “Presently, our records show zero crew changes for non-Singapore ships, for both on and off-signing crew changes."

He said that officials in Singapore have less than concrete action to help crew repatriation in these troubling times. Recommendations suggested by the MPA are not practical, and InterManager is encouraging anyone who did manage to carry out crew changes in Singapore to get in touch in order to keep a good record of the scale of the problem.

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