KUCHING: The Sarawak Oil Palm Plantation Owners Association (SOPPOA) calls on members to continue tighten movements at estates and mills following the surge of Covid-19 pandemic recently in various districts in the state. While acknowledging that there was an isolated incident in an estate location in Bintulu, SOPPOA nevertheless warns members of the dire consequences should the pandemic spread to other estates and mills in the state which may affect work operations due to an inevitable temporary shutdown in such locations as required by the authorities.
“Make no mistake, the Covid-19 virus threat is real, dangerous and is contagious; some other industries in Malaysia have been forced to close down operations due to workers getting infected and we do not want the same to happen here in Sarawak for the palm oil industry,” stated Mr. Andrew Cheng, CEO for SOPPOA. He also welcomed the recent stakeholders discussion and plans chaired by Mr. Edwin Abit, the Permanent Secretary Ministry for Modernization of Agriculture, Native land and Regional Development Sarawak (MANRED) of making surprise independent taskforce assessment visits at estates and mills in Sarawak to check on compliance to Covid-19 prevention SOPs (Standard Operations Procedures) which has been already strictly implemented since March 2020. SOPPOA has worked closely with the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) since the MCO was imposed in March 2020 last year. Plantations has continued to maintain strict controls to ensure that workers in estates and mills are not exposed to the virus threat by restricting movements in and out of estates and mills, including self-lockdown during work operations.
“Through our few meetings with the State authorities, District Residents, Agro-commodity representatives, MPOB and Federal Agencies recently on the Covid-19 preventive measures in the plantation industry in Sarawak, we welcome the decision by the SDMC to conduct Covid-19 preventive SOP compliance checks and recommendations at our estates and mills on the operations to ensure that all precautions have been taken to keep workers safe and protected at all time. SOPPOA is most appreciative of the efforts of the State authorities to maintain the health/safety for the public through implementation of restricting movements in various districts and towns during the current MCO, CMCO which has lessened or eliminate the chances of the virus being able to spread further,” he added.
SOPPOA expressed gratitude to SDMC Chairman, YB Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah and medical frontliners for the hard work and good effort in keeping the state safe and under control from Covid-19.