Crew change crisis: Bjørn Højgaard blames ports and nations

Seafarers have been responsible for transporting essentials such as food and medical supplies across the globe, which became a lot tougher during the pandemic but over a year later, the shipping industry is still plagued by obstacles such as travel restrictions, lengthy quarantines and regulations prohibiting crew changes.

“The crew change crisis is getting worse, not better,” says ship mangement company Anglo-Eastern Univan Group’s CEO Bjørn Højgaard in a post on LinkedIn.

“And the ports and nations, who are the real culprits behind this, are getting away with it, with impunity. So where’s the outrage from both within shipping circles and in the public space at large? And where does this all lead?”

Højgaard continues: “The way we treat seafarers in 2021 is absolutely shameful. Since the pandemic started, crewing departments the world over have scrambled to facilitate crew change against increasingly difficult odds. Seafarers at home are often unable to get a contract, perhaps because they live in a country with a high Covid load. And seafarers onboard are increasingly being treated as pariahs, despite the fact that they have kept the global supply chain we call shipping functioning throughout the pandemic – to the immense benefit to people and nations everywhere.”

Højgaard, who’s company has over 27,000 seafarers around the world, holds the ports and nations accountable for these problems, stating that ‘they want the ships and their cargo, but no, they don’t allow crew change. Not on my door step!’

In a comment on the article, Højgaard gives his support for a boycott, saying “-those ports that only ‘take’ and don’t ‘give’ should indeed be boycotted. We need all ports to lift in unison to solve the problem.”

While Højgaard says he absolutely understands the need for people and communities to be kept safe and that “nobody denies a responsible government the means to do their best to avoid Covid in the population” the current situation is unsustainable. He writes: “Trade is the lifeblood that eradicates poverty and without shipping many nations would run out of essentials in short order. Demanding the ships and their cargoes call their ports, and at the same time expecting other countries and ports to take the full responsibility of facilitating crew change… is short-sighted and it is wrong.”

Read Bjørn Højgaard’s full article was posted on LinkedIn on 18 September.

Earlier this year, MIN reported on the emergency relief fund launched to support seafarers and their families devastated by Covid-19 in India and other countries.

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