Workers at Haldia Port suspend dry bulk ops after COVID-19 case

Workers at India’s Haldia Port have suspended all dry bulk vessel operations at the port after learning a supervisor had tested positive for COVID-19.

It is understood that the workers stopped their activities on Friday, April 3 amid concerns that they might get infected.

The mechanical loading of thermal coal vessels is continuing without interruption, GAC informed.

The port authorities have sanitized the drive at Berth No.13 and adjoining areas including mooring ropes, jetty and MHC at Haldia Dock Complex on Saturday, April 4.

It has also been reported that safety protective gear – such as masks, gloves, and sanitizers – was also provided to the staff.

“It is understood that authorities have appealed to staff, unions, and stakeholders to return to work and resume operations which are essential to maintain supply lines. Even so, it is learnt that none were willing to return to work, so more days may be required for port operations to normalize,” GAC added.

The move is being announced after India introduced a complete lockdown of the entire nation for 21 days that began on March 24, in an effort to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ports in the country have been categorized as essential services and remain open during the pandemic in the interest of securing the normal functioning of the supply chains.

However, a growing number of ports across the country are declaring force majeure on its operations amid delays caused by the lockdown on the movement of cargo and vessel operations.

Kolkata Port Trust has been the latest one to invoke force majeure amid pandemic’s impact on the port’s productivity.

As a result, the port plans to exempt levy of demurrage charges for all types of cargo and waive penal berth hire charges, as well as damages for productivity drops at its terminals until April 15, 2020.