Six seafarers stuck at one of the ports in Colombo stated that they weren’t paid daily wages for nearly three years by their Mumbai-based employer firm. The sailors have tried approaching a local Sri Lankan court about the issue as they have been stranded in the country since 2019.
The seafarers informed mid-day that the condition of the Indian flag cargo vessel on which they work is dangerous, and there are multiple holes on MV Sai Arambh. It was corroded as the owners ignored maintenance. They further claim that the port’s fire department has to pump out water twice a day or else it might even sink. Family members of these sailors hope to have them back safely home. However, legal problems have kept them stuck at the Colombo port.
How they went to Colombo
Talking to mid-day, the motorman named Pradeep Yadav said that the vessel required repair work, but nothing was done as the owner wanted the crew to sail to Tamil Nadu’s Tuticorin Port from Vizag. The engine failed midway on 2 October 2019. As Sri Lanka was close by, a tug boat was called, and an empty cargo vessel pulled to the Colombo port, where they reached on 18 October. After repair work, the engine started functioning in January 2020.
He informed about the other two owners, Hemant Dhanu and Prafulla Ranjan. Dhanu reached Colombo in 2019 around December and assured them of payment. There were 19 crew members back then on board, and no one was paid a salary. After this, the seafarers approached and filed a complaint against the ship owners at a local court. The Sri Lankan authorities subsequently seized the ship. The court also ordered minimal staff, so six of these seafarers remained.
Ship in a dangerous state
Uday Adhikari, the chief engineer, reported that the ship is about 28 years old. It is naturally in a dangerous state. The commercial high court had given a verdict in February to auction it, pay the port, and clear pending dues of crew members. However, the owners have reportedly appealed against this auction.