More seafarers qualify for Singapore’s COVID-19 relief

Singapore is using artificial intelligence to test its upcoming Tuas mega port. Credit: MPA
Aerial view of Singapore port. Credit: MPA

The Singapore Organisation of Seamen (SOS) has joined the MaritimeSG Together Package to enable more unemployed Singaporean seafarers to obtain financial assistance amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The package, initially launched by the Mari time and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) on 29 April 2020, included a seafarers relief package (SRP) to vessel crewmen who are members of the Singapore Maritime Officers Union (SMOU).

The SRP offers SGD800 (USD562) per month to eligible Singaporean vessel crewmen who are unable to secure shipboard employment between 1 May 2020 and 31 July 2020.

An SOS spokesperson told SAS that the organisation and the SMOU represent different groups of seafarers.

“The SMOU represents officer-level seafarers, but the SOS represents non-officer seafarers. By joining the seafarers relief scheme, we’ll be able to offer the same financial assistance to our members,” said the spokesperson.

SOS president Kam Soon Huat said, “Seafarers are in a vulnerable position in this COVID-19 pandemic. Their livelihoods are adversely affected by border control measures and crew change restrictions. As a union that represents seamen, we understand the hardship that they face. We are working with MPA to offer financial assistance, in the form of this relief package, to our Singaporean seafarers and their families for them to get by.”

SOS has also delivered 650 care packs containing surgical masks, hand sanitisers, anti-bacterial hand wash, and anti-bacterial hand wipes to its members based in Singapore.

MPA’s chief executive, Quah Ley Hoon, said, “MPA has been working closely with the maritime industry and unions to recognise the contributions of our seafarers who have been working to keep supply chains moving amidst this pandemic. We welcome SOS coming onboard to help those Singaporean seafarers who do not have shipboard employment through the SRP.”