About 100 Indian sailors aboard 22 ships have been stranded in UAE waters and have sought the help of the Indian Consulate General in Dubai, according to a media report. Citing the Indian Consul General of Dubai, Vipul, the Gulf News said that the number of distress calls from Indian sailors stranded in UAE waters had hit its peak this summer. “We are currently dealing with cases of 22 ships. There are 97 Indians aboard these vessels,” the diplomat said. Though the exact number of crew members belonging to other nationalities is not available with the Indian Consulate, the mission said there are sailors from Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Myanmar and Pakistan also on these ships.
“Outstanding salary, non-availability of food, fresh water, fuel, harsh living conditions and no sign-off after the contract period are the major concerns voiced by the sailors,” the mission said in reply to questions by the paper. Majority of the sailors have complained about not being paid by their employers for several months. They have also sought to sign off and fly home after receiving payment of their pending dues, the paper said. The consulate said it had been contacting the owners and agents for settlement of the dues, provision of food, water and fuel, request for sign off, it added.
The mission has helped repatriate 36 sailors from six ships — MV Gulf Pearl, MV Ayah, Enjaz 2, MV Salem, MVRock and Al Hamad 1 — in the past few weeks, the daily said. In some cases, the Consulate has been providing food, water and even fuel and recharge of their mobile phones, it added. Vipul said the mission had been taking up the issues of the stranded sailors, case by case, with the relevant authorities.
“We alone cannot solve their problems, especially related to their pending salaries,” he explained. He also urged Indian seafarers to conduct proper checks on the credibility and financial status of shipping companies before joining them to avoid such situations.
Girish Pant, an Indian social worker, who has been closely working with the consulate in aiding the stranded sailors, said the growing number of such cases is a big concern that authorities need to address immediately. “I would like to request authorities to take strict action against such companies’ owners and agents. Most of them are not showing any humanitarian consideration to these sailors who have been stuck without salaries, food and water.
“The situation on some of these ships is really pathetic. Without fuel to operate the generator, they are suffering a lot in this scorching summer,” he was quoted as saying by the Gulf paper. Sailors from a couple of vessels have also been stranded in UAE waters following fire accidents on their ships. Vipul said the consulate facilitated the repatriation of 13 such crew members of MSV Al Hamd1, which was gutted in a fire on April 22 near Sharjah port just in time for Eid Al Fitr.
“The ship had caught fire in Sharjah, somewhere near the port, a day or two before the crew were to dock. The case was first brought to our notice through India Club, Dubai about two weeks back,” he said.
The crew was all from Kutch, Gujarat. The owner also belonged to Gujarat. Vipul said the mission contacted the state government to put pressure on the owner of the vessel. “Finally, he contributed a portion of the ticket fare for sending them back home. We funded the rest of the amount and facilitated their journey by issuing emergency (exit) certificates.” He said the consulate was also following up on five other Indian sailors, who survived the blast in MT Rojean which killed one sailor on May 13.