The United National Transport Union (UNTU) calls on Government to take legal action against MSC Cruises in South Africa, after they blatantly misled passengers on the MSC Orchestra departing on Monday 16 March 2020 from the Port of Durban for Mozambique.  

The vessel departed without heeding to the new regulations announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on 15 March 2020 when he declared the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa a national disaster. 

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said MSC Cruises understood clearly prior to departing that the ban on passenger liners entering South Africa will be in full force when the vessel returns tomorrow, 20 March 2020. 

The vessel will have to be isolated as a quarantined vessel in terms of the new regulations. 

Steve Harris, General Secretary of UNTU, said the MSC sent a statement to its clients who had booked cruises in the 2019/2020 season to clarify that “the cruise season is continuing as planned.” 

“We appreciate the severity of the situation and the request of the President to limit travel. Considering this, any passenger who does not wish to travel will be provided with a voucher to the value of their current cruise for use in the upcoming local cruise season in 2020/2021,” said an MSC statement. 

According to the statement MSC informed clients that it had received clarity from the various government stakeholders regarding port closures. “The ports of Durban and Cape Town are open to cruise passengers and crew.” 

Harris said in departing knowing that gatherings of 100 people or more have been prohibited, the MSC exposed not only the crew and their passengers, but also the employees of Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) and Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) to the risk of being infected with #COVID-19.” 

“This is the first time that South Africa has been faced with a disaster of its kind, but Government must make an example from those companies like the MSC who did not adhere to serve as a deterrent for the future,” says Harris.  

Issued on behalf of UNTU by Sonja Carstens, Deputy General-Secretary: Media, Liaison and Communication. For UNTU Press statements phone 082 463 6805 or e-mail sonja@untu.co.za


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