SBMA to accommodate repatriated seafarers
SAN ANTONIO, ZAMBALES — The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) will facilitate the return of repatriated seafarers and accommodate crew changes at the Subic Bay Freeport.
The agency’s board of directors had approved the first phase of the initiative, which involves the point-to-point embarkation of seafarers as safety restrictions continue to be enforced to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), SBMA Administrator Wilma Eisma announced on Saturday (Aug. 15).
The second phase involves the isolation of arriving crewmen in hotels within the Freeport, but its approval remains pending.
On Friday (Aug. 14), the Department of Transportation (DOTr) conducted a dry run of the safety protocols for receiving seafarers at the Subic Airport.
“During the mass repatriation of seafarers from cruise ships, there were steps that have already been corrected to ensure that health will not be compromised – for the workers and the seafarers. To be able to check this, we have involved all parties, national and local governments, and agencies,” said Narciso Vingson, DOTr Assistant Secretary for Maritime.
Feedback from local government officials, who witnessed the simulation, were centered on crew-change operations, because of fears that local workers may be exposed to infections.
But a one-stop-shop system that would help manage traffic flow would ensure limited contact between seafarers and processors from the Bureau of Quarantine, said DOTr Undersecretary Raul Del Rosario. No airport staff would be directly involved in the crew-change operation, added Rosario, who is the administrator of the Office for Transport Security (OTS).
“All hotel workers will be housed. They will be quarantined for 14 days before being allowed to go home,” he added.
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