14 Indian sailors stranded near UAE without food, water

14 Indian sailors stranded near UAE without food, water

Sharjah - On June 8, four ships MT beta, MT Cityelite, MT Al Nouf and MT Laowadale departed from Mumbai for Dubai.



By Ankita Chaturvedi

Published: Fri 7 Oct 2016, 7:36 PM

Around 14 Indians are stuck off a UAE port on four merchant ships without access to food, fresh water and other necessities for four months now. They have not even been paid their due salaries since they were recruited and now their survival is on the line with the shortage of fuel and ration.
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The vessels, which are oil tankers, are currently anchored in the Gulf of Oman 32 nautical miles (around 59 km) from Khor Fakkan, Fujairah.
On June 8, four ships MT beta, MT Cityelite, MT Al Nouf and MT Laowadale departed from Mumbai for Dubai.
Read on: Ordeal ends as Indian workers say final goodbye to UAE
The crew on board were recruited and sent by a Mumbai-based company, Abhay Shipping Pvt Ltd. On contacting the company owner, Abhay Pandey, Khaleej Times found that he doesn't have an RPSL (Recruitment and placement Service License) but claims to have other necessary documents; however, he failed to present those via email.
Pandey said: "I was asked by a Dubai based company, Venus Shipping, to send a crew of 16 workers - out of which 2 were called back and the remaining 14 are struggling there. I am aware of their conditions and I am trying to rescue them as soon as possible. Within 15-20 days, I would be able to take them back to India. I have asked the company to provide them food and hope they will supply it today".
According to Reverend Nelson Fernandez of the Mission to Seafarers - a welfare charity that serves merchant seamen - the vessels are not in the territorial water, but in the international waters, so the supply of food and other necessities looks difficult. He says his team can surely help them in the rescue process. Rev Fernandez said: "We have asked our Mumbai members to contact the concerned company and we are trying to contact the agent here in Dubai; we'll definitely try to help the stuck seafarers".
In dire straits
The Indian Consulate in Dubai released a statement on the issue, that stated: "The Consulate is aware of 14 stranded Indian seafarers in Fujairah and Khorfakan anchorage. They are on board vessels MT Beta, MT City Elite, MT Low dale & MT Al Nouf since around last 3 months. All the vessels are owned by a Fujairah-based Company, namely Venous Ship Management. These seafarers have 6 to 9 months' contract with the company and have been complaining regarding their sign off, shortage of provisions, fuel and unpaid salaries etc. Their grievances were taken up by the Consulate with the company management directly and also through India Social club, Fujairah. After the intervention, the Company released one month's salaries and also provided immediate provisions, recently. Members of the India Social Club are in regular touch with the Company and have visited their office in person many times. The company is yet to respond".
In October 2015, Indian consular officials told Khaleej Times that they investigate three to four such abandonment cases monthly. At the time, Reverend Dr. Paul Burt, director of the Mission to Seafarers, noted that his organisation deals with five or six new cases of seafarer abandonment every week.
According to Dr. Burt, Indian seafarers, in particular, find themselves victims of unscrupulous recruitment agencies back home, hired by shipping companies to supply crew at a low cost.
"Many get their jobs in the Gulf - mainly the UAE ports - through crooked manning agencies in Mumbai and other Indian cities which promise jobs that don't materialise as imagined," he said.
Recent seafarer abandonment cases in the UAE
January 2016: 21 Indian sailors were left without pay on board three ships in Ajman for 7 months.
September 2015: 12 Indian sailors were living without pay and with limited provisions and medical supplies for three months at the Ajman freezone.
September 2015: Seventeen Indian sailors and their Burmese captain were stranded off the Sharjah coastline for the past 8 months, with limited food and water, no pay, in grim conditions.
What the people concerned have to say
"I was asked by a Dubai based company, Venus Shipping, to send a crew of 16 workers - out of which 2 were called back and the remaining 14 are struggling there. I am aware of their conditions and I am trying to rescue them as soon as possible." - Abhay Pandey, owner of Abhay Shipping Pvt Ltd
"We have asked our Mumbai members to contact the concerned company and we are trying to contact the agent here in Dubai; we'll definitely try to help the stuck seafarers." - Reverend Nelson Fernandez, Mission to Seafarers
"Many get their jobs in the Gulf - mainly the UAE ports - through crooked manning agencies in Mumbai and other Indian cities which promise jobs that don't materialise as imagined." - Dr. Paul Burt, director, Mission to Seafarers


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