Coronavirus: Singapore

Jurong Fishery Port reopens with stricter measures

Most fishmongers, tenants expected to return tonight, but some still serving their quarantine

People believed to be Jurong Fishery Port workers heading into the port last night. Under new rules, workers must follow a hand sanitation regimen, and wear masks and gloves when they pick up goods.
People believed to be Jurong Fishery Port workers heading into the port last night. Under new rules, workers must follow a hand sanitation regimen, and wear masks and gloves when they pick up goods.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

The wholesale market at Jurong Fishery Port - the epicentre of the largest active Covid-19 cluster here - reopened for business last night after a two-week closure.

Enhanced safe management measures (SMMs) were strictly enforced as workers and lorries carrying large plastic boxes and bins made their way to the site when The Straits Times visited at 8.30pm.

One worker found himself locked out as he did not possess an orange band which would allow entry into the premises.

Mr Yee Yong En, a 23-year-old Malaysian, told ST that he had been waiting outside the security gate for an hour. He works as an assistant at a stall that sells fish such as stingray, grouper and mackerel.

"Security is now tighter (at the port). My boss told me to wait for him to issue the orange band as without it, I cannot enter," he said in Malay.

Mr Yee was among the many workers from Jurong Fishery Port who had been quarantined in hotels for the past two weeks.

More than 1,000 Covid-19 cases have been linked to the port as at yesterday.

Mr Yee showed ST an electronic letter from the Ministry of Health on his mobile phone that declared he is Covid-19-free.

The port reopened last Saturday after two rounds of deep cleaning of the entire site, said the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) in a Facebook post on Sunday.

"As tenants and trade visitors adapt and adjust to the enhanced SMMs, there may be initial issues and delays, and we will work closely with trade associations, tenants and workers to review and fine-tune the processes where necessary," it added.

Jurong Fishery Port handles roughly 30 per cent of the country's seafood imports, including those that arrive by land and air. It has more than 100 merchants and attracts up to 3,000 customers daily.

Most workers, fishmongers and tenants are expected to return tonight, Mr Ang Jwee Herng, president of the Singapore Fish Merchants' General Association, told ST yesterday.

Some, however, are still serving quarantine orders. Others have chosen not to return to work yet for fear of getting infected, while yet others are unsure of SFA's new measures, said Mr Ang.

He added: "The tenants and workers told me they will be more careful with following the measures, such as wearing their masks properly and not talking while smoking, to prevent another cluster at the port.

"Though the stricter measures are inconvenient, they understand the importance of sticking with them as there are a lot of people at the port each day and they want to be able to continue their business."

Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu told Parliament on July 26 that the Jurong Fishery Port outbreak was likely to have been caused by workers mingling and not wearing masks.

The new measures require port workers to keep their distance from foreign crew as they unload the goods. Port workers can pick up the goods only after the crew members leave the unloading area.

All workers must also follow a hand sanitation regimen, and wear masks and gloves when they pick up the goods.

All unloading activities will be supervised by safe distancing ambassadors and monitored via closed-circuit television cameras.

One wholesale fish seller who did not return to work yesterday was Mr Goh Thiam Chwee, 58. The managing director of Kah Huat Song Kee Fish Agent has a few days left on his quarantine order.

Mr Goh, who is also honorary secretary of the Singapore Fish Merchants' General Association, told ST: "It was a 100 per cent loss for me as I couldn't sell fish and still had to pay my workers' salaries and rent.

"Each day, I can sell about a tonne of seafood. In total, we lost out on 10 tonnes of seafood during the closure."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 03, 2021, with the headline 'Jurong Fishery Port reopens with stricter measures'. Subscribe