Mutorwa calls for protection of seafarers during pandemics

John Mutorwa

Minister of works and transport John Mutorwa says there is a need to make sure seafarers are not deprived of medical support and offshore time in the case of future pandemics.

He was speaking at the recent third regular session of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), which was hosted in London for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic.

“In celebration of post-Covid-19 recovery, it is imperative to guarantee that in the face of any future pandemics, our seafarers will not be deprived of shore leave or essential medical care,” Mutorwa said.

Given Namibia’s strategic position as a logistics hub for southern Africa, the country is committed to contributing to IMO initiatives promoting fair, efficient and resilient global maritime transport systems, he said.

“International trade and maritime transport, which is not possible without seafarers hold strategic importance for our country.”

Speaking on climate change, Mutorwa said it is an existential threat, and commended IMO member states for adopting the 2023 IMO strategy on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from ships.

“We eagerly anticipate active participation in the next steps of the strategy’s implementation,” he said.

Mutorwa said there is a need for effective implementation and enforcement of IMO instruments at national level.

“Namibia sincerely appreciates the IMO’s continued support in addressing its human capital capacity needs, however, there is a need for effective implementation of IMO instruments.”

Speaking at the same event, the secretary general of the assembly, Kitack Lim, highlighted the organisation’s achievements during the current biennium, emphasising the need to decarbonise and digitalise shipping in the years ahead.

“Our planet, oceans, and humanity face critical threats from pollution, climate change, geopolitical instability and the economic challenges posed by high inflation.

“Despite these obstacles, the importance of shipping in facilitating global trade and transporting essential goods across continents cannot be overstated.

“However, our focus must shift towards a future that’s both decarbonised and digitalised, leaving no one behind,” he said.

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