MCO: FGV ceases ops of five palm oil mills in Sabah’s Sahabat region

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on April 21, 2020.
Filepic of a local oil palm plantation. At two of FGV’s five mills in the Sahabat region, four employees are quarantined as persons under investigation.  (The Edge file photo)

Filepic of a local oil palm plantation. At two of FGV’s five mills in the Sahabat region, four employees are quarantined as persons under investigation. (The Edge file photo)

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KUALA LUMPUR: FGV Holdings Bhd has voluntarily ceased operations at five palm oil mills in the Sahabat region in Lahad Datu, Sabah, after the police enhanced the movement control order (MCO) in the area due to 11 Covid-19 cases detected.

In a statement yesterday, FGV confirmed none of its employees in Sahabat tested positive for Covid-19. FGV said its operations in that region involve 115,432ha of plantation, comprising of seven mills and 48 estates.

“At two of the five mills, four employees are quarantined as persons under investigation. The other three mills have been closed as a precautionary measure due to their proximity to the affected Felda (Federal Land Development Authority) operations.

“FGV is giving full cooperation to the health ministry and has immediately advised its employees and their family members to undergo testing if they had been in close contact with any positive Covid-19 patients in the past 14 days, particularly in Wilayah Sahabat.”

FGV is fully committed to supporting the Sabah state government’s efforts to contain the pandemic by adhering to “radical and robust guidelines and SOPs (standard operating procedures)” at all of its estates and mills, to ensure the risks to all employees’ safety and health are minimised, it said.

FGV reaffirmed its employees’ safety, health and well-being are the utmost priority, and will continue being vigilant in its efforts to contain the virus.

“Since the outbreak, FGV had established a Covid-19 task force committee and implemented preventive measures across all of its operations.

“Amid the latest announcement of Lahad Datu district being a red zone area, FGV has taken several proactive measures in Wilayah Sahabat in line with the health ministry’s guidelines.

“All movements within FGV’s Wilayah Sahabat operations are strictly controlled and monitored. FGV is working closely with PDRM (Royal Malaysia Police) and has utilised FGV’s auxiliary police teams to ensure strict compliance with the state government’s movement control order,” it said.

On Sunday, Bernama reported that the police were enhancing the enforcement of the MCO in Felda Sahabat after 11 Covid-19 cases were detected in the area.

Lahad Datu district police chief ACP Nasri Mansor was quoted as saying that following the District Disaster Management Committee’s instruction, no public movements are allowed in the area.

He was quoted as saying in line with the directive, all plantation and mills activities in the area will be suspended, and supermarkets, eateries and public markets’ operations restricted.

According to earlier news reports, FGV was among major plantation companies, comprising Sime Darby Plantation Bhd, Wilmar International Ltd, Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd and Genting Plantations Bhd, that had appealed to the Sabah state government to reconsider its decision to close oil palm operations in Kalabakan, Semporna, Kunak, Tawau, Lahad Datu and Kinabatangan due to Covid-19.

On April 1 this year, FGV said in a statement its appeal factored in the welfare of 871 families in Felda Sahabat and 776 families in Felda Umas. FGV said their incomes will be affected as a result of the closure.

“FGV has committed to adhering to all SOPs and guidelines in all FGV estates and mills since the MCO implementation on March 18 and continues to work closely with all stakeholders to ensure the risks to all employees’ safety and health are minimised,” FGV said then.

FGV’s share price closed one sen or 1.14% lower at 86.5 sen yesterday, with a market capitalisation of some RM3.16 billion.