Maritime pilots urge government to place them on priority vaccination list


KLANG: Maritime pilots are asking to be included in the Covid-19 vaccination priority list as they risk infection when doing their duties.

Maritime Pilots Malaysia (MPM) president and chairman Capt Martin Lim said that they are at risk every time they board foreign vessels to guide them into ports.

"When ships come from open sea, they cannot come in directly into the harbour but have to dock at the outer anchorage or at the pilot station.

"Our maritime pilots then board the vessel, take control of it and bring it into the wharf, '' said Lim.

He said by right, the ships should be quarantined outside the perimeter of the harbour due to the pandemic.

He added that pressure from industry players as well as terminal operators are forcing maritime pilots to bring the ships into the harbour soon after arrival – including ships from India.

Lim said that ships from India generally take about five days to arrive at Malaysian ports.

If quarantined for 14 days, this means that it would take 20 days before the goods are unloaded and sent to their destination.

He said only ships suspected to have Covid-19 cases are quarantined at the outer waters.

He added that even though pilots are draped in full personal protective equipment when boarding ships from India, they are still concerned about their safety.

"Three maritime pilots – two from Port Klang and one from the Johor port – tested positive for Covid-19 and 12 were quarantined for up to 14 days due to close contact with persons under investigation for Covid-19," he said.

Lim added MPM, which is the national association representing maritime pilots in Malaysia, submitted a list of names for priority vaccination to the Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) several months ago.

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