Sunday Times (Sri Lanka)

Seafarers ahoy!

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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.

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