Beginning Monday, June 27, seafarers have been given a one-month timeline to renew their licences, free of cost. The amnesty period was announced by Minister of Public Works, Bishop Juan Edghill, MP, as part of ‘Day of the Seafarer’ which was observed on June 25.
The decision was taken in recognition of the critical role played by seafarers.
“For all those whose licence and books are not in order, that perhaps we can give a one-month amnesty. That everybody who comes in to get themselves organised, they can do so for free for the next month… that is one way of getting everybody registered, getting everybody in line so that nobody can make the excuse, they did not have the money or the fees,” the Minister stated.
The amnesty period will provide for unlicenced seafarers to acquire their licence and discharge book free of cost. The cost of acquiring a licence range from $12,000 to $30,000 and is valid between three to five years, while the cost for a discharge book is about $8000.
MARAD’s Director General, Stephen Thomas, said there are only about 300 registered seafarers. The director general said operators of all vessels are required to have certification based on the size and trading area of the vessel.
He said the amnesty period provides the opportunity for all those in the sector to be in MARAD’s system.
“We would not be able to complete all the exams, but once you come and apply during this time then you would be entitled to the benefits of the amnesty.”
“We hope the seafarers can come, they can feel at home, they can feel comfortable by coming and visit us at MARAD. We waivered the payment of the fees to process the documentation to have them certified and licenced so that we can keep a proper record on them. It is not to spy on them, but it is to support them,” he said.
Minister Edghill also committed to engaging seafarers so as to address their working conditions, and other issues. [Extracted and Modified from DPI]