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Shipping Considerably Impacted by Ebola Outbreak

The author:SEA TRADERThe article source:Time:2014-10-30Reading:1416
  Despite IMO’s recommendation to keep maritime business as usual in Ebola-affected areas players from the global shipping industry have already adopted a different approach in dealing with vessels that have called in the region.  Countries from Europe, the US, Latin America and Asia have introduced health screening measures at their ports as a precaution measure aimed at preventing potential outbreak in their own countries.  Freight companies’ imports to and exports from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone were down as much as 30% to 40% in August and September, due to the sharp deterioration of the local economies, which has been undermined by misunderstandings of the risk of contamination, according to BigNewsNetwork.  Shipowners calling at affected ports have been advised by P&I clubs to prevent shore leave and unauthorised access to their vessel, cancel crew changeovers, ban the purchase of fresh food (particularly meat) and ensure crew members are scrupulous with their hygiene and food preparation.  Trading of oil products in the West Africa region has been impacted as restrictions imposed by several countries are causing logistical hurdles for traders faced with chartering ships that can only discharge in certain locations. This is leading some traders to charter more vessels to cover a wider range of ports, Platts data shows.  Numerous states have introduced screening measures for ships entering their territorial waters from the region, whereas other resorted to even more stricter measures, like Turkey.  Last week, Turkey’s directorate general of health for border and coastal areas prohibited vessels entering Turkish waters from Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana and Nigeria from having contact with the mainland for crew change, provision supply, bunkering and other similar procedures, Platts said, citing a circular issued by the directorate.  In the Ebola-affected countries – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – hygiene measures such as temperature checks, hand-washing in chlorine solution or the wearing of gloves and/or masks have been introduced to limit the risk of infection on board vessels, London P&I Club informed in an update.  “To the best of our knowledge, no seafarers have contracted Ebola during a call to one of the Ebola-affected countries,” the Club’s regional correspondent Budd Group said.  The Club said that sea borders between Cameroon and Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria have been closed.  According to the update, countries like Gabon, Mauritania and Equatorial Guinea have banned vessels travelling to/from West, Central or East Africa to berth in the ports of Malabo and Bata, whereas other countries resorted to somewhat less strict measures introducing health screening prior to vessel arrivals.  P&I clubs have also been advising shipowners to introduce Ebola-clauses into their charterparties.  “At many crude loading areas in West Africa, agreements between shipowners and charterers set out in voyage charterparties have enabled shipments to run relatively smoothly since the outbreak of Ebola,” writes Platts.  “In such a clause, seen by Platts, it is specified that if a charterer orders a vessel to load or discharge at any port or place where cases of Ebola have been reported, the shipowner shall be entitled to take precautions which they deem prudent or necessary to protect the vessel’s crew and other persons on board.”  Should any extra time be spent in the port for this reason, it will count as time on demurrage.  “The charterparty clause also specifies that should the vessel load or discharge at a West African port and health authorities at a subsequent discharge port impose special precautions against the vessel for having been in West Africa any delays will count as demurrage and any extra expenses involved will be paid for by the charterer of the vessel,” Platts said.