After more than a month since community transmission of COVID-19 was detected in the country, people in the provinces are now in dire need for basic essential services.
To address the situation, the National Emergency Operation Centre (NEOC) together with the Solomon Islands Maritime Authority through the Infrastructure Committee, Ministry of Health and Royal Solomon Islands Police Force have already put in place a process where ship owners and operators can apply for an exemption for ships to travel out to the provinces.
Under the arrangement several ships have already been dispatched to some provinces and there are more applications still going through the process. The process looks simple but behind the scene there is a lot of small details that must be complied with.
This is important because whilst we are trying to help our people with basic services, we must also take into account that we are also fighting to try and break the chain of community transmission of COVID-19.
A statement from NEOC says because of these minor but very important details we will expect some delays in the arrangement but the NEOC assures the public that authorities are working hard to ensure that arrangement continues to be implemented without too much hassle.
“We understand the frustration but the process involves SIMA to check and ensure that the vessel is sea worthy, has a valid license to operate and has the qualified manpower on board. The Ministry of health also has to ensure that the crew are fully vaccinated and tested negative 24 hours before departure. These are just few of the requirements," the statement said.
The NEOC would like to advise anyone wishing to apply for an exemption that the process will take between 3-4 days to complete and therefore calls for patience, understanding and cooperation from both operators and the public as we all to work on the arrangement for the benefit of everyone.