The Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) has called on the Federal Government to give seafarers and dockworkers priority in accessing the vaccination against COVID-19 pandemic.
The spokesman of the association, Dr Bolaji Akinola, in a statement on Sunday in Lagos, noted that seafarers and port workers had been designated as essential workers by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
He said that putting them on the priority list of those that would have access to the vaccine would ensure the sustenance of the logistics chain.
“Seafarers and dockworkers are under-recognised, under publicised and unsung economic heroes despite their significant contribution to keeping our nation afloat during the economic dislocation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is, therefore, imperative to ensure the continuity of the maritime workforce through the continuous provision of protective health supplies, rapid testing supplies and priority access to vaccination.
“Ensuring priority access to COVID-19 vaccines to these critical maritime workers is vital to keeping the supply chain active. If our seafarers and port workers are unprotected, the supply chain will become vulnerable,” Akinola explained.
The spokesman also stated that contrary to insinuations in certain quarters, Nigeria had abundant logistics capacity to transport and store the COVID-19 vaccines at the required temperature.
“We have abundant refrigerated containers, also called reefer containers, for the transportation and temporary storage of temperature-sensitive cargo including vaccines.
“These refrigerated containers are capable of controlling temperature ranging from 40° C to 65 °C.
“Reefer containers allow the transportation of cargo in a way that preserves its freshness and efficacy all the year-round,” he added.
It would be recalled that the World Health Organisation (WHO) recently said that a total of 16 million AstraZeneca doses of COVID-19 vaccines out of the 88 million allocated to Africa, would soon arrive Nigeria.
WHO said that it would be supporting all countries to access vaccines as quickly as possible.