While we're busy prepping our minds and bodies for the next few weeks of the extended Movement Control Order (MCO), sailors and others linked to the shipping community are calling for the Government to think of them as well.
The community's representative, Ahmad Badri Alwi, said that short term and long term initiatives need to be put in place for the approximately 30,000 registered seafarers in the country.
Being part of an essential service, seafarers ensure that sea transport continues uninterrupted, bringing food, fuel, medicines and many other imported essential goods back home safely.
"Most sailors do not receive a monthly salary but get paid based on contract work onboard ships. When working, they are usually offshore for months at a time.
"Other sailors grounded on land then have to wait their turn to board the ship before being issued new contracts and therefore getting payment.
"Due to the current situation, some sailors have been on land since December 2019, and are scheduled to resume work in March 2020. However, due to the MCO, they are unable to start work," he told Rojak Daily
Short term and long term measures and assistance needed
He added that it is additionally challenging for the grounded sailors as monetary aid, including SOCSO applications, can only be made when you are currently employed.
Ahmad Badri also said that due to the MCO, seafarers are now stuck at sea.
"Seafarers have been in service for weeks, even months, and are now stuck aboard ships due to restrictions on crew changes at ports in Malaysia, and in many other ports around the world," he said.
Ahmad Badri said that inland and travel restrictions were also causing headaches to crewmen nationwide.
"We hope the Ministry of Transport and the Marine Department takes this matter into consideration.
"Our sailors need help. For those with monetary issues, perhaps assistance can be given from the Marine Transport Center Fund for," he suggested.
Sigh, we feel for all the seafarers.
Thank you for your service and we also hope that the authorities can find an amicable solution to this problem soon.