May 18, 2020 (LBO) – Sri Lanka is exploring the possibility of developing the Galle harbor into a Global Crew Exchange Hub by creating an environment for sailors to return to their respective countries via the Island.
This was discussed during a meeting with the representatives of leading local shipping companies at the Presidential Secretariat, today (18), President’s Media Division said.
The representatives of the shipping companies have revealed that daily more than 300 trade vessels sail 10 nautical miles away from the Galle Port and this will pave the way to generate huge foreign exchange revenue.
President has instructed the officials to adhere to health guidelines and regulations in the course of implementing this programme.
President also explored the possibility of finding employment for youths at prominent shipping companies in the world where major shipping lines are facing labour shortages in the international market due to the COVID-19.
The possibility for Sri Lankans working in foreign ships which are sailing from east to west close to the southern coastal belt to enter and leave from the Galle habour was also discussed.
Of the 1.6 million global shipping crew 16,000 or 1% of the total are Sri Lankans and they annually contribute USD 300 million to the Sri Lankan economy.
President Rajapaksa added that a twofold increase in the number of Sri Lankans in the field would double the country’s foreign exchange income.
With the assurance of a quality-centric service to foreign naval corporations, Sri Lankan employees can secure more opportunities to work for longer periods in foreign vessels, positively affecting the local economy.
Secretary to the President, P.B Jayasundera, Principal Advisor to the President, Lalith Weeratunga, Commander of the Sri Lankan Navy Vice Admiral Piyal De Silva, Chairman of Sri Lanka Port Authority, Retired General Daya Ratnayake and several heads of a number of prominent Naval Corporations were present at the discussion.
Meanwhile, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has released the protocols which among other guidelines insists that professional seafarers and marine personnel are designated as key workers.
The protocols detail health and safety recommendations to governments, customs, border controls, seaports and civil aviation sectors in an effort aimed at finally unlocking the process.
The governments are urged to exempt seafarers and marine personnel from travel restrictions in order to facilitate their repatriation or joining ships.
The authorities are also called to permit seafarers and marine personnel to disembark ships in port and transit through their territory (i.e. to an airport) for the purposes of crew changes and repatriation.
The maritime bodies are also urging for the implementation of appropriate approval and screening protocols for seafarers seeking to disembark ships for the purposes of crew changes and repatriation.