By: Demion McTair. Updated 10:24 p.m., Monday April 27, 2020. Atlantic Standard Time (GMT-4)
Kingstown, St. Vincent (ONE NEWS SVG) – A Vincentian sailor has made a passionate plea to the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, telling them to “stop the nonsense” regarding their position on who should fund the quarantine of more than 300 sailors who are set to return home.
In a video published publicly on his Facebook page, Travis Harry said the sailors have signed contracts that once they get on their soil (their home country) they are responsible for themselves.
Harry also included in his comments, other seamen and women from St. Vincent and the Grenadines who are yet to return from oil rigs and other seafaring related jobs, a total he said is about 2,500.
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves had said on WEFM on April 26 that hoteliers have negotiated a fee of EC$150 per night, inclusive of three meals and that cruise lines should pay this fee for a quarantine period of 14 days.
Harry, however, who said he was speaking on behalf of Sailors made it clear that such a position is in contravention to a gateway-to-gateway contract.
“When your government asks these cruise lines to pay, when these sailors has already touched their gateway, your government is single-handedly forcing 2,500 seamen to break a legal binding contract” – Mr. Harry said.
“You cannot force citizens to break a legal binding contract that they signed” – Mr. Harry added.
He suggested that it could have repercussions for St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the country’s relationship with cruise lines.
Dr. Gonsalves said on Sunday (April 26), that persons were trying to sabotage the process.
“They are sending things to cruise lines telling them that the government must pay for this thing and those who ain’t sending, they writing it up all about so that the cruise lines are seeing, believing that people are bringing pressure on Ralph so that Ralph will cave in and just bring them willy nilly. But I wouldn’t cave in. We have to do this thing properly,” Searchlight Newspaper reported the Prime Minister as saying on We FM.
Mr. Harry said “those of you who are saying it’s cruise lines’ responsibility, it is this industry’s responsibility when seaman reach home, you have no clue what you are talking about. You are lost”.
The issue has drawn a significant amount of national attention from its inception. The government, against odds, declared a position very early that citizenship has to mean something and that it will not close its borders, to allow nationals overseas to be able to return home, even amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
The issue then shifted from a border closure issue, after Opposition Leader, Dr. Godwin Friday, who initially called for the country’s borders to be closed to all non-essential travel, later endorsed the return home of Vincentian Seafarers.
The issue with the sailors is now a quarantine concern, raising questions about who would fund the quarantine of more than 300 sailors, for at least 14 days, when they return home.
SEE MR HARRY’S FULL VIDEO HERE: