Prime Minister has assured provincial leaders and businesses that they will find solution to ship cargoes to the provinces after several crews of vessels they planned to transport those goods had tested positive for COVID-19.
All provincial centres and beyond the towns have expressed shortage of basic cargoes and are urging the government to urgently intervene.
In his statement today, Sogavare the Oversight Committee had cleared cargo ships to recommence their cargo runs to all provinces.
However, he added, as of yesterday several crews of each cargo vessel had tested positive for COVID-19— this means the full crew of each vessel are exposed to COVID-19.
“The Oversight Committee is working closely with health to agree the best strategy to deliver goods to each province. I have been assured we will find solutions to this new challenge within the next 24 to 48 hours,” the PM said.
Sogavare said the greatest challenge is that of transmitting COVID-19 to provinces if “we have COVID-19 infected crew on the vessel.”
He said health is considering options to mitigate transmission if “we must allow asymptomatic COVID-19 positive crews to remain on the vessels that take cargos to provinces.”
Cargo airlift to provinces – starting on Monday
Meanwhile Sogavare said on his instructions the oversight Committee has discussed with Solomon Airlines and Heli Support Solomon Islands on the option of airlifting cargo for provincial shops while “we address the COVID-19 issue on our cargo vessels.”
“I wish to put on record the positive response from the Australian government that has agreed to fund Solomon Airlines and Heli Support Solomon Islands to airlift cargo delivery to provinces starting as soon as is possible,” he said.
“Australia is also exploring the possible deployment an appropriate fixed wing aircraft to assist with airlift of cargos to provinces until our shipping services are back in action as well as a possible support vessel which will also cover when one of our patrol boats go in for maintenance,” he said.
The oversight Committee will now work with provinces through the PDOCs to prioritise cargo deliveries to provinces to start as early as from tomorrow, Monday 7th February 2022.