By Genivi Factao
(as published in Manila Times, December 9, 2020)
Maritime industry players have used technology for the efficiency and integrity of the Filipino seafaring industry amid the coronavirus 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
Döhle Seafront Crewing Manila Presiden Iris Baguilat said Döhle Seafront has been at the frontline of the pandemic and proactively finding solutions to help the Philippine maritime industry steer away from the operational tension and disruptions, particularly on the crew change issue that has neared a “humanitarian crisis.”
She pointed out that the use of blockchain technology has made the workloads easy as port authorities can verify the seafarers using quick response (QR) codes.
“Covid-19-negative test and quarantine certificates will be made tamper-proofed using blockchain technology. These can be verified by the port authorities of the receiving country through QR codes that will be provided to the seafarers,” Baguilat said.
“This project intends to avoid further spread of the virus, and ensure the Filipino seafarers’ integrity in the global fleet, which Döhle Seafront is keen about,” She furthered.
Baguilat said some 227 seafarers have availed of the benefits of this project as of November 30.
The International Maritime Employers’ Council (IMEC) and International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) working group that includes Döhle, contracted St. Giles Hotel and Marriott Hotel in Metro Manila to house the RT-PCR testing and 14-day quarantine of IMEC-affiliated inbound and outbound crew on October 28.
During these 14 days, ITF affiliate Associated Marine Officers and Seamen’s Union of the Philippines (Amosup) conducts room-to-room swabbing and testing of the seafarers upon check-in and two to three days before departure.
The crew’s daily temperature was monitored and ensured that they do not have a fever as Covid-19 infected people tend to develop symptoms within 11.5 days from exposure.
The projected success of this one-stop-shop would also mean security for shipping principals from the potential added cost of testing, quarantine, and repatriation should a crew be found positive in the joining country. It also entails less cost compared to contracting both services separately in the Philippines.
Singaporean Authorities vetted this testing and quarantine procedure made by the IMEC-ITF working group. They mandated all joiners in Singapore to go through the same process before entering the country.
This is in response to a growing number of problems involving several cases of seafarers deployed in Australia and China in October that turned out to be infected with Covid-19 despite testing negative in the Philippines before deployment.
Manning agencies were expected to cover only the hotel room accommodation that ranges from P2,000 to P3,500 per day and the swab testing that costs P3,500 each. Miscellaneous expenses will be covered by an IMTF Amosup grant that IMEC received.