An Andheri-based shipping firm drowned in bankruptcy, leaving nine of its ships stranded across the world. Two of the vessels belonging to Halani Shipping Pvt Ltd are docked in Nigeria, three in Dubai and five off Mumbai. While the vessels abroad are stuck without any supplies since the last six months, the crews of the ships docked off Mumbai have refused to disembark, saying that if they leave, the owner won't bother clearing their dues.
One of the vessels near Mumbai is the Saga vessel. Mohammad Sami, an oiler aboard the ship, said, "Six of us are on board and we have not got our dues. Our main engine has stopped because we have no diesel and because it's monsoon, our vessel flows anywhere. This is dangerous."
A crew member from MV Topman ship in Dubai said they've constantly written e-mails and tweeted to various concerned agencies, finally receiving a reply from one on June 21, from the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF), whose intervention helped them get a two-month work permit. The crew member said that with this permit, they're at least allowed to step out of the dock.
He added, "It now feels like we're out of jail. At least we can step out and walk in the city. We are deprived of money and basic facilities. The Halani group has cheated us big time. We miss our loved ones, but we are unable to make our journey back to them as we do not have any money."
These crew members might be put out of their misery soon, as the Forward Seamen's Union of India (FSUI) has now intervened in the matter. Manoj Yadav, general secretary, FSUI, told mid-day, "These seafarers have been exploited and abandoned by the Halani group since more than six months. In the meantime, the living condition on board is terrible due to no supply of food and water. With the employers stopping communication, seafarers are totally dependent on local NGOs, ITF and ports where they are anchored."
"As of now, around 150 officers and crew have approached us from the shore and the ships regarding their pending dues and that has been reported to all concerned authorities. But despite that, no action has been taken against Halani shipping. After receiving the consent of officers and seafarers, we've sent a notice and legally moved for settlement of their wages and their safe return home," he said.