Sunday Times (Sri Lanka)
Marine recruitment agencies and a union representing seafarers (ship’s crew) are appealing to the Government to come up with a cheaper accommodation rate in hotels for returning Sri Lankan seafarers who have to undergo a compulsory 14 days in quarantine.
“The charge at these hotels is prohibitive and needs to be reduced,” said Palitha Athukorale, President of the National Union of Seafarers Sri Lanka. While returnee migrant workers are accommodated in government shelters at no cost, seafarers have to check in at designated hotels which charge $55 per person per day or $90 for shared accommodation.
Officials at recruitment agencies said that only the bigger companies pay for these charges on behalf of their recruits while in the case of others, the individual seafarer has to pay the charges.
At least 700 to 800 have returned to the country accommodated on flights coming to the country empty, as per an arrangement with the authorities. There are still around 3,000 Sri Lankan seafarers stranded in various parts of the world who have completed their contracts and want to return.
Industry officials said that in the case of security marshalls (security personnel on board vessels), they are housed at Galle in cheaper accommodation costing $35 per day and suggested that the same rates be applied to Sri Lankan seafarers as the current cost is unaffordable to both companies and individuals. “All we are asking is a hotel at a nominal rate and decent accommodation,” one official explained.