Call to tighten movements in estates

KUCHING: The Sarawak Oil Palm Plantation Owners Association (Soppoa) has urged its members to tighten movements at their respective estates and mills following the surge in Covid-19 pandemic in various districts in the state.

While acknowledging that there was an isolated incident at an estate located in Bintulu, the association warns members of the dire consequences should the pandemic spread to other estates and mills in the state.

“This may affect work operations due to an inevitable temporary shutdown in such locations as required by the authorities.

“So, make no mistake. The Covid-19 threat is real, dangerous and is contagious,” said Soppoa chief executive officer Andrew Cheng today.

He noted that several industries in Malaysia have been forced to close down operations due to workers getting infected. Hence, the association does not want the same thing to happen in Sarawak for the palm industry.

On another note, Cheng welcomed the recent stakeholders’ discussion and plans by the Ministry for Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Sarawak (Manred) in making surprise visits by an independent task force assessment team to estates and mills in Sarawak to check on compliance with the standard operating procedures (SOPs).

“Soppoa has worked closely with the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) since the first movement control order (MCO) was imposed in March last year, and the SOPs have been strictly implemented since then,” he said.

He added that Soppoa has held several meetings with the relevant state and federal authorities on the Covid-19 preventive measures in the plantation industry in Sarawak.

“During the meetings, we welcome the decision by the SDMC to conduct checks on Covid-19 SOP compliance in plantations and recommendations at our estates and mills on the operations to ensure that all precautions are taken to keep workers safe and protected at all times.

“We are most appreciative of the efforts of the state authorities to maintain the health and safety for the public through implementation of restriction movements in various districts and towns during the current MCO and conditional movement control order (CMCO),” he said.