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Ebola scare: Trinidad port workers desert ship from Ghana

A ship from Ghana that docked in Trinidad and Tobago was abandoned on Tuesday because the port workers feared they might contract the deadly Ebola virus.

The Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) prevented its members from unloading the ship mainly because it is coming from West Africa, adding that the state-owned oil company, PETROTIN, had not formulated any protocols to deal with the haemorrhagic fever.

Trinidad and Tobago’s Health Minister, Dr Fuad Khan, has condemned the act. He said the ship – Overseas Yellowstone – had been cleared to dock at the port of Pointe-a-Pierre.

“Unlike clearance processes that occurred when a vessel that had visited Ghana was docked in Chaguaramas recently, PETROTRIN has called in ‘scab labour’ to help dock the vessel at Pointe-a-Pierre.

“In light of the heightened global Ebola threat, regular port workers have refused to dock the vessel unless PETROTRIN applies the proper procedures and protocols,” Khan told the JO.

Ebola has killed over 4500 people primarily in West Africa. Ghana is not among the five sub-regional countries from where passengers have been banned from entering Trinidad and Tobago.

But OWTU president, General Ancil Roget said their decision to abandon the ship from Ghana was precautionary, given the fact that the ships normally would use people from other countries.

“Therefore any threat or any exposure to the Ebola virus would put at risk not only the employee, but the home, family, community and therefore it is in the national interest…that we call on the company to put in place the necessary protocols in the interest of the workers at Point-a-Pierre,” he said.

Roget said that given the fact that the ship had been at other ports, it is possible that someone could be carrying the virus for which there is no known cure.

But Khan said the OWTU is playing games because it is fully aware of the tests that had been conducted on the vessel.

“The ship has been fully cleared medically. There is absolutely no reason to invoke OSHA or anything. It is just delaying tactics by the union,” he said, adding that “at the end of the day, the ministry has done its duty [and] there is nothing to worry about.”

Source: Ghana/StarrFMonline.com/103.5 FM

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