Japan Club said that it had received information from Budd SA, its correspondent in the Democratic Republic of Congo on the Ebola situation in the state. On May 29th the World Health Organization (WHO) said that the Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) had caused 25 deaths among the 53 cases reported so far. The outbreak began on April 4th 2018.
The WHO report confirmed that the outbreak was still localized to the three health zones initially affected: Iboko, Bikoro and Wangata in the province of Equateur, about 1,500km from the province of Kongo Central, which is the location of the country’s three sea ports, Matadi, Boma and Banana.
Response plans have been established and Ebola vaccines have been provided to people in high-risk communities. For the time being, there is no impact of Ebola on the maritime operations in the three sea ports of the DRC.
Japan Club recommended that, although the government of the DRC was confident that it could halt the current outbreak, and the WHO experts had stressed that there should be no international travel or trade restrictions, members trading to the ports in West and Central Africa were recommended to remain vigilant and monitor the situation closely by consulting the P&I correspondent in the port concerned.
Members were also encouraged to include an Ebola clause to allow owners to refuse to call at the port and to request alternative instructions when negotiating a charterparty.
When parties draft the Ebola clause they should be careful to define the level of risk needed and the width of area affected to trigger the clause, and the consequence of calling at a port-at-risk, which would depend more on the approaches taken by the different port authorities, to avoid the charterparty disputes between owners and charterers, Japan Club said.