Eight Indian seafarers are stuck in an abandoned ship at the Sharjah anchorage, including two other seafarers from Tanzania and Sudan. UAE coast guard has confiscated their passports, and salaries are not paid by the Elite Way Marine Services, which handles the management of the ships.
Shaheen Sayyed, a social activist and human rights defender, working with ‘Justice Upheld’ is actively helping these Seafarers, by posting their videos on her twitter handle and urging everyone to help them. An online petition can be signed to help these seafarers.
Seafarers stuck in the ship
The vessel in which the seafarers are stuck is ‘M V Azraqmoiah’, a deck ship, from which the people have not yet been rescued. The eight Indian crew members are Capt. Ayyapan Swaminathan, Ramesh Gadela, Yalla Rao Chekka, Bharath Haridass, Gurunathan Ganesan, Alok Pal, Naskar Sourabh and Rajib Ali.
Their passports were confiscated on April 15, 2018. All the crew documents and the ship’s original documents have also been collected. Many of the members’ salaries have not been paid regularly. Initially, they were paid two to three months’ salary, but later they were stopped completely.
Captain Ayyapan Swaminathan said while talking to The Logical Indian that their ship has been detained because the company had to pay the bunker supply company $144K. Following the bunker supply company going to the court, the ship was detained.
Due to lack of funds, the ship management has not deployed it to any destination. The ship is basically an oil tanker. The sailors are not even allowed to step onto the shore until they are given a ‘sign off’ by the ship management, which they have not received despite multiple requests.
Other abandoned vessels
17 other vessels of the company have also been abandoned. Out of them, ten vessels are active, with six of them in Sharjah anchorage, one of them twenty miles away from Sharjah anchorage and two in Hamariya port and one is in Khorfakkan. In all these vessels, around 40 people are stuck, including 31 Indians.
Sahaya Arun Xavier from Khorfakkan said in a conversation with The Logical Indian, “The company was paying the salary till August 2016 regularly, but the problems began later.” He further said that the company has told them that the vessel Abdallah 1 had been sold, and with that money, they will pay their salaries.
“According to the Indian value of money, all our salaries will add up to Rs. 70 crore, but by selling a vessel to scrap they would not get more than 2.5 crores.” He called these promises fake.
Problems faced by the seafarers
The vessels are in terrible condition. Essential medicines are not delivered despite the company being informed that all the medicines on board have expired and new medicines are needed. The crew members are getting hardly any provisions and there is also lack of clean water and fuel. Some of them are also suffering from severe health conditions.
In a letter by the Forward Seaman’s Union of India to Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, he asked for help, explaining the condition of the sailors who are stranded on the ship for as long as 18 months.
“The condition on board the ship is critical. We do not get enough provisions, fresh water or medicines,” said sailor Pankaj Digari. The Times of India also reported that Pankaj’s brother Ajay Digari claimed that their family was facing a financial crisis and in the ship, his brother was struggling for his life. Due to enough diesel not being supplied to the ship, there are several hours when there is a complete blackout.
The Logical Indian urges authorities to help the sailors and help them return to their families at the earliest.
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