Bangladesh’s Government Shipping Office (GSO) has made arrangements for submitting crew repatriation applications online to speed up the process of crew changes and lower the exposure of COVID-19.
The GSO issued a detailed notification on how the foreign seafarers’ repatriation application has to be submitted online, what kind of documents need to be uploaded, and the procedures. The notification was uploaded on its website on 9 August.
The GSO have also digitised the application procedure for seeking no objection certificates (NOCs) for inbound and outbound vessels and uploaded a checklist of documents needed.
However, it is unknown whether such an arrangement is available in other countries in this region.
The GSO notification said that any vessel arriving in Bangladesh waters has to obtain an NOC from the GSO within 48 hours of arrival by submitting an online application in line with the Bangladesh Merchant Shipping Ordinance 1983.
An updated crew list, Bangladeshi seafarers’ articles of agreement, minimum safe manning certificate, and the ship master’s declaration on COVID-19 infection have to be uploaded together with the application.
For repatriation of foreign seafarers, all the instructions issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Ministry of Health have to be followed properly.
The ship’s master should make a written declaration that all the salary and wages of crew have been paid in line with the Maritime Labour Convention 2006.
Aside from that, the master also needs to submit a letter stating that the seafarers who intend to sign-off are free from COVID-19. Zakir Hossain Chowdhury, head of the GSO and shipping master, told SAS the digitisation of the service helps online application submissions without coming to the office.
“[The digitisation] helps to get NOCs quickly for the vessels owners and crew”, he said.
Chowdhury also said that during the pandemic the issuance of Continuous Discharge Certificates (CDCs) was also available online so that service can be provided without a physical visit. “We’re no longer receiving CDC issuance applications manually,” he said.
An applicant will receive a CDC within three working days of making the submission.