The plight of the crew aboard the arrested vessel, the Agatis, has made headlines this week.
The vessel was arrested on March 17, en route from Mianmar to the Ivory Coast, and has been stranded at Three Anchor Bay in Cape Town ever since. Conditions have deteriorated quickly for the 21 crew members aboard. According to one crew member, Otto Lasrado, there is no clean drinking water left; no water to wash clothes or flush toilets; two months worth of waste is piling up and there is very little food left.
According to the crew’s lawyer, Alan Goldberg, conditions aboard are not good and the only chance the crew have of getting home to India is to pay for a ship to remove them from the Agatis and arrange for their own fare back to India. As they have received no pay for several months, this is simply out of the question.
The owner of the vessel, Meranti Bahari PT, is in the midst of a severe financial crisis and the ships agent, Aquarius Maritime PTE Limited, from Singapore, and a supplier from United Arab Emirates arranged for the arrest in South African waters in an attempt to recoup their money. To make matters worse the ship is not allowed to enter Cape Town harbour as there is no security that the relevant fees will be paid.
The predicament of this crew also impacts on their families back home who rely on their income. “We chose this line of work so that we could take care of our families and of our children. Who is going to look after them now?” said Lasrado.
Within the maritime industry there is a continual attempt to throw the spotlight on our seafarers, their contribution to our economy and how hard they work in often less than ideal conditions. Here is a group of men who have been let down by the very company that they work for and are now stranded far from home, friends and family, with no pay and no way of getting back home. Where does the responsibility lie to help this crew and others in similar situations worldwide?