Estate owners back call to screen all plantation workers

KOTA KINABALU: Estate owners here have voiced their support for the Sabah government’s directive to have all plantation companies conduct Covid-19 screening for their workers in the wake of two clusters among them.

Malaysian Estate Owners’ Association president Peter Benjamin said it was their responsibility to abide by the policy for the sake of their employees’ health.

“We should not look at this as a burden and we need to support the government in overcoming this pandemic.

“Healthy employees will also help to keep the operations (in plantation industry) going, as this is an essential service, ” he said.

He was commenting on the policy, which was announced by state Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun on Friday.

Benjamin urged plantations to register with clinics under Socso, which would help to subsidise the testing fees.

“Since the numbers (of manpower) are large, the screening can be carried out in the plantations itself, ” said Benjamin.

Two new clusters – Ladang Baturong in Kunak district with 54 cases and Ladang Matamba in Lahad Datu district with 20 cases – emerged following mass screenings among workers in the two estates.

Sabah is currently the country’s largest palm oil producing state with over 1.54mil hectares.

Masidi said as part of their responsibility towards their workers, plantation owners were also required to prepare health facilities and low risk quarantine and treatment centres.

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