The UAE arm of Dubai-based ports and logistics giant DP World has “taken every measure we can to keep trade flowing" in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, its chief executive said.
DP World UAE said it had implemented a health and safety plan to make sure its employees were safe and that supply chains remain open to keep essential trade flowing in the midst of the global pandemic, especially for vital supplies such as food, medicine and medical equipment.
“As a frontline economic growth engine, DP World UAE Region and its businesses are currently operating under the UAE’s Coronavirus Prevention and Response Plan along with business continuity plans that are customised for each operating entity,” said Mohammed Al Muallem, the ports operator’s UAE region chief executive.
“We’re working closely with all our stakeholders, especially companies in [Jebel Ali Free Zone] that provide essential services, to spread the awareness that preventive actions by individuals are as important as those taken by organisations. This is a time for collective action,” he added.
Measures taken by the company in the UAE to prevent the spread of the virus include encouraging staff to work from home and the installation of thermal cameras at operational buildings as well as at entrances and gates to Jebel Ali Port and its neighbouring Free Zone, Jafza.
Jebel Ali is the Middle East’s biggest trans-shipment hub, handling 14.1 million twenty foot-equivalent units (TEUs) in 2019 - about 20 per cent of the 71.4 million TEU handled by the ports operator globally.
Ship crews arriving or departing from Jebel Ali port have to pass through thermal cameras and obtain the Harbour Master’s approval before boarding or disembarking from vessels, the operator said.
DP World has also disinfected and sanitised all of its offices, vehicles and equipment at Jebel Ali Port, Jebel Ali Free Zone, Mina Rashid and Mina Al Hamriya ports, as well as at its P&O Marinas, National Industries Park, Dubai Auto Zone, Dubai Trade and World Security facilities.
All fingerprint ID scanners have been deactivated to prevent contamination and social distancing measures have been put in place during staff shift changes and on transportation to and from work sites.
DP World also said much of the operations at Jebel Ali Port are carried out by remotely operated quay cranes and automated gantry cranes and gates.
There have now been more than 1.8 million cases of the Covid-19 illness caused by the coronavirus outbreak, according to the Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking its global spread. It has caused more than 114,000 deaths but almost 438,000 have recovered from the illness.