Ports pledge to remain open during pandemic


Twenty Port Authorities have signed a declaration to keep ports open to seaborne trade to support fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recognising that the maritime sector plays a critical role in keeping trade flows open in the global fight against COVID-19, 20 members of the Port Authorities Roundtable (PAR) from Asia, Europe, Middle East and North America came together on 27 April to declare their commitment to ensuring their ports remain open amidst the current pandemic.

The declaration, initiated by Singapore, calls for port authorities to collaborate and share best practices in ensuring that port operations can remain undisrupted.

Representing the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), Quah Ley Hoon, Chief Executive, said, “As the world battles with the COVID-19 pandemic, it has never been more critical to keep our ports open and goods moving. Shipping is chartering into many unknowns and new challenges.

“Port authorities have to take enhanced precautions for their ports and on ships, as well as manage the stress faced by our seafarers and maritime personnel. We have come together to make a declaration of our commitment, exchange experiences and share best practices.

“This virtual declaration by members countries across different geographical regions is also a first for the PAR. We came out of the session gaining more valuable knowledge to ensure that necessities and essential medical supplies continue to be transported seamlessly across the world and into our respective countries.”

Through this joint declaration, the signatories are committed to work together and ensure that:

Merchant ships can continue to berth at port terminals to carry out cargo operations and keep the global supply chain going;

Best practices are adopted, according to national circumstances, including precautionary measures for the shipping community, advisories and assistance for shore personnel and ship crew, and safe handling of cargoes during this period; and

Port authorities continue to share experiences in combating COVID-19 while safeguarding unimpeded maritime trade.

PAR has shared the declaration with the International Maritime Organization and the International Association of Ports and Harbours to rally other port authorities to join this declaration.

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