The crew of a fishing vessel who were not paid their wages, denied shore leave and had to endure poor living conditions on board a detained ship, may finally be on their way home.
The Taiwanese-owned ship, MV Lean Fong Tsai, first arrived at Mombasa, Kenya, with an Indonesian crew in December 2014. She was detained by the Kenya Maritime Authority when port state control officers found her to be unseaworthy.
Repairs were still not done by 2015, so the crew were repatriated and a new crew comprising 11 Filipinos, and a Taiwanese engineer and master, were subsequently brought in to take over without the authorities’ knowledge, said George Sunguh from the seafarers’ charity Apostleship of the Sea (AoS).
The men have been on the vessel since December 2016, and on August 24 they were due to be “smuggled out” and flown back to their country without nine months pay. Their plight was brought to the attention of the International Transport Federation (ITF) Inspector in Mombasa, and the ITF, Mission to Seafarers, AoS and the Kenya Seafarers Union then got involved.
“The captain repeatedly told the men ‘we will sail next month’, but it never happened. The crew were only provided with rice and chicken, with no vegetables and fruit, and limited drinking water,” said Sunguh who is the AoS Coordinator in Mombasa.
The shipowner is currently in Mombasa, and negotiations are underway to ensure the crew receive their wages. The crew are owed $34,650 in outstanding wages, and the vessel may be auctioned to raise the money.