The Malta Independent 8 March 2021, Monday

Passengers in cars: UHM calls for lifting of Gozo Channel Carnival weekend directive

Monday, 8 February 2021, 18:41 Last update: about 27 days ago

UHM Voice of the Workers has called for the immediate lifting of a directive whereby during Carnival passengers aboard Gozo Channel ferries are to be “encouraged” to remain in their car for the entire duration of the trip. Such practice goes against international maritime conventions on security as well as Gozo Channel’s own the protocols, it said.

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Announced by Prime Minister Robert Abela during a news conference on January 27, the directive will come into force from Thursday February 11 to Wednesday February 17.

UHM, which represents Gozo Channel workers, had drawn the company’s attention to the risks involved immediately. Furthermore, it had insisted that an independent risk assessment should be carried out on the matter in question. In this absence of such exercise, Gozo Channel masters will not be held liable for any possible consequences which might result from this directive, it said.

UHM is also concerned on the mixed messages being conveyed which are creating confusion. This is resulting in passengers refusing to get out of the car during the trip amid remarks such as “I will not listen to you and ignore the Prime Minister” which are being directed to Gozo Channel employees and officials. UHM will keep insisting for the issuance of a public notice signalling the withdrawal of this directive to quell the existing doubts and in the interest of the safety of the commuters using the ferry service.

From a wider perspective, UHM warned that controlling passenger movements during the 30-minute journey alone, is not enough to control the pandemic and would create a false sense of security. The recent experience of the holiday season when active cases exploded after people turned a blind eye to the COVID-19 restrictions showed that the situation may only remain under control through a broad strategy on various fronts and not just cosmetic measures.

 

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