Sabah oil palm estates, mills in six districts given conditional green light to operate


  • Nation
  • Friday, 10 Apr 2020

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah has given a conditional green light for oil palm plantations and mills in six east coast districts to restart operations after they were ordered to stop on March 30.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said that the state government had agreed for the plantations and mills in Tawau, Lahad Datu, Kinabatangan, Semporna, Kunak and Kalabakan to restart operations on four conditions.

He said there must be no Covid-19 positive cases nor any persons under investigation (PUI) for Covid-19 at the plantations and mills.

He said all workers at the mills and plantations should not have close contact with any Covid-19 patient or PUIs.

All of them must observe the operational guide issued by the Sabah Health Department to maintain proper procedures in their operations to ensure limit risks of spreading Covid-19 among workers as well as to avoid such areas and premises becoming sources for the spread of the disease, he said in a statement on Friday (April 10).

The plantations also have to appoint a health supervisor either a dresser, health officer or a safety health officer to oversee estate clinics.

For those estates that do not have estate clinics, they would be required to set up screening centres as put in place by the Health Ministry.

Shafie said they would have to fill in forms for their workers' health conditions as well as their travel history, including those who just returned from outside Sabah.

“Plantations must prepare quarantine centres for workers who have just returned to Sabah and they will have to be quarantined for 14 days, ” he said.

Shafie warned that if any plantation or mills are detected to have workers with Covid-19 case, a PUI case or were in close contact with a positive Covid-19 person, the permission to operate would be withdrawn.

“The state government will be monitoring and reviewing the permission given for the plantations and mills in the area, ” he added.

As of Thursday (April 9), the six east coast districts accounted for 131 cases of the 248 Covid-19 cases in Sabah, more than half of the state total.

Tawau is a red zone with 67 cases followed by Lahad Datu with 38 cases.

The oil palm lobby has been pressing for the state government to allow for operations to continue.

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