No travel restrictions – World transporters
Global land, sea, and air transport lobbies are blasting world leaders for imposing travel bans in the aftermath of a new Covid-19 variant, which could strengthen Africa’s case against restrictions.
The transporters, which include shipping companies, air freight companies, and cross-border haulers, claim that the “knee-jerk” reactions to the Omicron variant risk suffocating an already ailing global supply chain.
The International Air Transport Association, which represents commercial airliners, the International Chamber of Shipping and the International Road Transport Union, and the International Transport Workers’ Federation issued a joint statement on Friday.
They rejected new travel restrictions, including those that limit the flow of people and goods. “They will do nothing to prevent this while inflicting serious harm on still recovering global supply.”
These organizations, which account for roughly $20 trillion in global trade, are wary travel bans may endanger the jobs of workers in the logistics sector while also harming local economies.
- The transporters who include shipping operators, air freighters, and cross-border haulers say the “knee-jerk” reactions to the Omicron variant could risk killing an already ailing global supply chain.
- Representing about $20 trillion of world trade share, these groups caution travel bans are putting the jobs of workers in the logistics sector at risk, while also damaging local economies.
- Although flight bans have affected air passenger traffic, the lobbies also say it could slow down deliveries by road or sea as countries close borders on foreign arrivals.
- Umberto de Pretto, Secretary-General of IRU said the sudden halting of commercial travel was hurting workers who were simply doing their job to keep global supply chains functioning.
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Since South Africa first announced a new variant of SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, at least dozens of countries around the world have imposed travel restriction.
This includes the controversial blanket ban imposed by the UK, US, and Canada on all of South Africa’s neighbors.
“Now is the time for heads of state to listen to industry leaders and workers by taking decisive and coordinated action to ease the strain on the supply chain and support an exhausted global transportation workforce during the busy holiday season,” they said.
“We should expect variants to emerge, according to public health officials.”
And by the time they are detected, history shows that they are already present all over the world,” added Willie Walsh, Director General of IATA, the association of commercial airlines that includes Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airlines.
South Africa and Botswana have both expressed outrage at what they see as “punishment” for revealing the variant. Botswana’s President Mokgweesti Masisi revealed on Wednesday that four samples of the variant were discovered in his country among recently arrived foreign diplomats.
“Some countries’ reaction to our discovery of the Omicron variant is unfortunate, as it appears to have caused unnecessary panic among the global public.,” said Botswana’s President Masisi on Wednesday.
At a New York event, African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat told an audience that travel bans were not based on logic or scientific evidence.
“We have told UN agencies that there is no scientific basis for these travel bans; this variant was found to be circulating in Europe before it was identified in South Africa,” Faki said at a commemoration of slavery.
“We condemn and oppose travel restrictions that are not based on science or common sense. It is immoral to condemn a country because its scientists alerted the world to the presence of a new variant. A human being’s life should be the same in the face of a common enemy,” added Faki.
The transportation lobby wants a guarantee of free movement, priority for vaccinations, and adherence to only proven public health protocols.