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Ships told to slow down while passing straits

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SEA CAUTION: Marine Dept monitoring traffic and haze in Straits of Malacca

GEORGE TOWN: THE Marine Department yesterday issued a navigational warning to companies of shipping vessels plying the Straits of Malacca on the haze situation.

Director-general Datuk Captain Ahmad Othman said they had been told to be extra cautious and observe their speed while sailing on the straits.

Ahmad said the department was closely monitoring all ship movements from its control centre at Port Klang and would update the haze situation to the ships from time to time.

"We have reminded them to navigate at a safe speed, taking into consideration the prevailing haze condition. We are monitoring all the ships from our control centre at Port Klang... the centre will as usual be keeping a close watch round-the-clock," he said after opening a national-level Seafarers' Day at the Swettenham Pier international cruise terminal here yesterday.

Malaysia and Singapore have been experiencing haze for the past few days with the Air Pollutant Index readings reaching unhealthy and hazardous levels caused by forest fires in Sumatra, Indonesia.

In Port Klang, one of the country's busiest sea ports, the API reading had reached a hazardous level of 495 while in Penang and Perak, the readings had deteriorated to unhealthy level at over 100 locations.

On another matter, Ahmad said Malaysia would be adopting the International Labour Organisation's Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) by August.

He said before the convention could be adopted, national regulations must be drawn up and presented to the cabinet for evaluation.

"We hope we will be able to put this forward to the cabinet during the Parliament sitting."

Ahmad added that by adopting the MLC, the department hoped to resolve issues such as the non-halal food being served to Muslim crew members working on vessels.

The MLC's existing international maritime labour conventions and recommendations include, among others, employment conditions, accommodation, recreational facilities, food, catering, heath protection, medical care, welfare, social security protection, compliance and enforcement.

Currently, about 40 countries had adopted the convention.

The Marine Department has issued a navigational warning to companies of shipping vessels plying the Straits of Malacca. Pic by Danial Saad


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