The Corona virus pandemic or COVID-19 in Indonesia, especially in DKI Jakarta, is a phenomenon that can have an adverse impact on businessmen, including those who use sea transportation. This is because the current situation has potential to make the port in unsafe conditions for anchoring and/or berthing (unsafe ports), furthermore it can cause disputes for businessmen and related parties.
PT Pelabuhan Indonesia II (Persero) (“IPC”) through its official website ensures that all operational activities and services for service users, especially cargo ship services will continue, unless the government issues a special request that all operations and activities at the port must be stopped.1
In the case that port operations activities continue to run, the problem that may arise is whether ports in Indonesia can still be considered as a safe port for anchoring and/or berthing even in the middle of a pandemic,2 in accordance with the following safe ports qualifications:3
“A port will not be safe unless, in the relevant period of time, the particular ship can reach it, use it and return from it without, in the absence of some abnormal occurrence, being exposed to danger which cannot be avoided by good navigation and seamanship.”
Moreover, considering that until March 25th 2020, there are 790 people in Indonesia who are infected with COVID-19 and 463 of them are in DKI Jakarta4, then there is possibility that ports in Indonesia especially in DKI Jakarta will be considered as unsafe ports because they do not meet the safe ports qualifications as mentioned above.
In anticipation of the spread of the COVID- 19 virus, IPC in their publication dated March 7th 2020 conveys their action to tighten the entry of all cargo ships and passenger ships. Moreover . IPC also do these following actions:5
a. With the help of officer of Port Health Office conduct the initial inspection to all crew members of ship that will berthing.
b. When the ship berths, the crew members of foreign-flagged are prohibited to go down to the harbor, the change of the crew members can only be done after passing the observation period which is supervised by the employees of Port Health Office.
c. Ships that will berth are required to do online reporting about the last 10 ports they visited before heading to Tanjung Priok.
d. Foreign-flagged ship agents6 are required to report the health conditions of the entire crew and attach a pneumonia-free statement signed by the captain, at least 2×24 hours before the ship anchor.
e. The officers are obliged to use personal protective equipment, at least masks and gloves.
In addition to the steps taken by IPC above, Tanjung Priok Head Port Office also issued a Circular on Improving Supervision and Prevention on the Spread of Corona Virus in the Work Area No. SE-06/546- TPK/2020 dated 28 January 2020, which generally applies the same precautionary measures as above.
The IPC’s and Tanjung Priok Head Port Office’s actions above are an effort to keep operational activities at ports still run as usual in line with the COVID-19 pandemic. However, given the COVID-19 pandemic situation is still under strict monitoring from the government, the determination of a port considered as a safe port still requires observation of the conditions and facts that specifically occur in the field.
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2. The scope of safe port as mentioned therein is the safe port in the Charterparty, where the designation of a safe port is the obligation of the charterer.
3. The Eastern City Case .
4. http://covid19.bnpb.go.id/, retrieved on March 23rd 2020.
5. https://www.indonesiaport.co.id/cfind/source/files/press%20release_7%20maret%202020.pdf, retrieved on March 23rd 2020.
6. Article 1 number 7 of Law Number 17 of 2008 about Shipping, General Agency is the national sea transport company or a national company specifically established to undertake ship agency business, which is appointed by the foreign shipping companies to take care of the interests of his ship while in Indonesia.