Bintulu MP wants GLC subsidiary to face music for ship cluster

Tiong demands answers from an oil and gas company for alleged SOP negligence that resulted in a Covid-19 outbreak.

BINTULU, July 28: An offshore GOM 7 vessel with 24 crew members down with Covid-19 so far was found to have breached the mandatory 14-day quarantine order upon calling at Bintulu on July 2 as well as failed to undergo a second round of testing.

Bintulu MP Dato Sri Tiong King Sing disclosed that the vessel had instead allowed 25 people to board the ship and set off for the D18 platform on July 8.

“All vessels are required to undergo vessel quarantine upon calling at port, with no one allowed to disembark or board the vessel during the quarantine period, unless cargo needs unloading.

“In this instance, the vessel which is operated by the subsidiary of a government-linked company (GLC) owes the people of Bintulu an explanation for this lapse,” he said in a statement posted on his Facebook page yesterday.

Tiong thus called on the Bintulu Health Department to issue a fine to the company immediately, and if necessary, to take the company to court for flouting standard operating procedures (SOPs).

To make things worse, he added, the company had also failed to disclose the truth to the Health Department during an investigation after two of its oil rig workers tested positive for Covid-19.

He also learned that only four of the 48 crew members on board have been vaccinated, leaving as many as 44 crew members and oil rig workers without vaccine protection when the State authorities have been pushing vaccination for everyone including workers in various industries.

“We have been asking oil and gas companies in the district for the numbers of their contractors and subcontractors who have yet to be vaccinated but we were repeatedly told that all personnel have been vaccinated. Yet, inspections have detected that many staff are still not vaccinated,” he pointed out.

Of the 17 confirmed cases in Bintulu on July 25, Tiong reported that 12 were from the vessel comprising seven locals and three foreigners.

For July 26’s 17 confirmed cases, 10 of them were crew members from the vessel, two workers from the manufacturing sector and two foreign workers from the construction sector.

Tiong, who is also the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy to China, thus questioned if the GLC is concerned for the wellbeing of the Bintulu people in allowing this outbreak to happen due to their alleged negligence.

“The outbreak onboard the vessel has now led to an increase in the confirmed cases in Bintulu. Therefore, the company cannot shirk its responsibilities and shift the blame to another party.

“I have stated previously that similar outbreaks have occurred repeatedly and the same mistakes are being allowed to happen. The GLC must take action now and implement lockdown, mass testing, and bear the necessary quarantine costs by the subsidiary,” he added.

If the subsidiary, which is registered in Miri with management based in Bintulu, is unwilling to bear the responsibility, Tiong suggested that these confirmed cases be transferred to Miri to include in the district’s caseload.

“This company’s attitude throws (away) everything the district has done to keep cases down and endangers the people of Bintulu.

“People of Bintulu are looking forward to transition into Phase 3 of the National Recovery Plan so that more industries can resume operations. But with companies behaving like this, there is little hope that we can enter Phase 3 soon,” he said.

As such, Tiong called on the Miri Health Department to pay close attention to the movement of oil rig workers and employees of the oil and gas industry in general to ensure they comply strictly to procedures governing off-shore operations so as to prevent any such outbreaks in the future. — DayakDaily