The Planters’ Association of Ceylon (PA) yesterday called on government and Public health officials to ensure that estate sector workers are made a top priority in the COVID-19 vaccination drive, given their essential contributions to the national economy.
In the backdrop where COVID-19 cases are once again on the rise both locally and globally, while preparations are already underway for the 2nd phase of the vaccine drive, PA Media Spokesperson, Dr. Roshan Rajadurai reiterated that the health and safety of estate communities must be ensured.
“Through the concerted efforts of RPC management working closely with government and public health officials, we were able to ensure strict health, hygiene, and social distancing protocols were implemented on RPC estates.
This has helped in ensuring that not a single case of COVID was registered in these communities, even with the large scale of international returnees.
“In that time, all of our employees have continued to work with minimal disruptions as a result of the pandemic, all while generating absolutely essential foreign exchange for the national economy. We therefore request that the Government expedites vaccination for our workers as a matter of utmost urgency,” Dr. Rajadurai stressed.
Regional Plantations Companies (RPC), The Plantation Human Development Trust (PHDT), alongside relevant stakeholders, have worked hand in hand to ensure COVID-19 protocols and guidelines are implemented at all touch points of the supply chain and to the community at large.
With the announcement of the lockdown earlier last year, a COVID 19 steering committee comprising of RPCs, PHDT and Ministry of Health officials was set up to implement a response strategy to safeguard the 1.5 million estate population from contracting the virus.
According to the PHDT, an investment to the tune of over Rs.200 million was made to set up hand washing and sanitizing units, awareness programmes, safety equipment, dry rations and conduct a number of activities to control the spread of the virus.
Furthermore, RPCs have committed to provide employment opportunities to plantation youth who have lost their jobs in the service sector and have returned to the estates, owing to the pandemic under the ‘Saubhagya’ agriculture programme.
“We thank all our frontline workers, the government and the Ministry of Health for their hard work to curb the spread of the virus. They have all done a commendable job in vaccine administration across the country. Moving forward, RPCs are committed to ensuring that our estate workers and employees are kept safe while keeping the well-being of the community in mind,” Dr Rajadurai concluded.