Samoan sailors say they are okay

Two of more than three hundred Samoan sailors stuck on vessels they are working on during the COVID19 lockdown say they are well looked after amidst the pandemic uncertainty. 

The Samoa Observer spoke with Peni Farao, who is currently on the Italian Seaview cruise ship in Brazil, and Tuputala Tuiloma Ma Chong, who is working on the MSC Opera Cruise Ship docked in Genova, Italy. 

Aside from missing Samoa and their families, they say they are well. Mr. Farao said he is among 24 Samoans sailors in Brazil.

"We are all doing great," he said. "There are certain rules that we have to follow for the protection from COVID-19.

According to Mr. Farao, the cruise ship that they are on is currently docked off-shore. 

He adds that the Samoa Shipping Services is constantly contacting them to check up on them and to advise them on any plans of bringing them home.  He assured that everything was okay and that there was nothing to worry about as they are keeping safe and during their spare time they would play a few games on board.

Mr. Ma Chong echoed similar sentiments, saying he is among eleven Samoan sailors on the vessel in Italy.

"The MSC Opera company has been very good to us. We are fed well and we're also healthy here," Mr. Ah Chong said.

Mr. Ma Chong said some Samoan sailors had their contracts ended in March.

But given the COVID lockdown, their contracts have been extended on the condition they only work four hours a day.

He said no one is allowed to leave the ship.

"The number one rule here is that no is allowed to enter or leave the ship because that is the only way to keep us safe," he said 

"The only people who come every two weeks are the doctors for our medical check-ups."

Mr. Ma Chong said that all 120 workers on the ship were tested negative and everyone was safe as no one had any symptoms of COVID-19.

Samoa Shipping Services has constantly been in contact with the sailors, he added.

"They contact us every day, In the morning and at night. Most of the time it's the Crewing Manager of Samoa Shipping Services, Suafoa Meredith that contacts us on any changes," he added

Asked about the incident that happened in Miami, Mr. Ma Chong said that they found out about what happened through a senior officer of MSC Opera. 

"Personally I think that our parents shouldn't be informed about incidents like these unless we're the victims in the incident. I just don't want to worry my parents because I am ok and so as everyone here with me," he added

He also shared that they are not against the government for not bringing them home immediately or any plans of doing so. 

"We all here understand why we are not able to come home, and we're ok with that. We understand the procedure and it's for everyone's safety."

"We just want to assure everyone in Samoa that there is nothing to worry about. Don't jump to conclusions because we understand why we cannot come home and we just pray that everyone in Samoa is staying safe."

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