Indian mission in Dubai assists 100 stranded sailors

Nearly 100 crewmen aboard 13 ships stranded near the UAE ports have been assisted by the Indian Consulate in Dubai since July, prompting the mission to call for caution among the sailors before joining the shipping companies.

Sailors are increasingly seeking haven in the coast of the UAE, mainly that of Dubai, as it is a major transit point and the local authorities have always helped stranded crew to eventually solve their crisis.

Owing to the large number of Indian crew aboard, the Indian mission in Dubai has become a focal point in resolving their crises mainly related to unpaid wages, shortage of food and water and other amenities for stranded sailors in many ships at anchorage in or near the UAE waters.

The Indian missions blacklist shipping companies and agencies of Indian origin from labour recruitment if they are involved in mistreating sailors by not paying them salaries and by stopping of provisions and fuel.

However, with the consulate receiving many SOS calls from stranded Indian crew members from the cost of Dubai and Northern Emirates of late, officials who have intervened to solve their issues say that there needs to be better understanding about the companies, agencies and the vessels themselves among the sailors before they board ships.

“They (crew) need to check the track record of the companies and their agencies,” a senior official told Khaleej Times on Sunday.

Officials noted that online research about the vessels, their owners and companies may help in figuring out how worthy it is to join a particular ship.

Local authorities and Indian associations in Dubai and Northern Emirates have helped the mission in solving the recent cases of stranded sailors.

“We have received tremendous support from the Dubai Maritime City Authority (DMCA) and port authorities in Northern Emirates in finding effective solution for many stranded vessels. They have helped in putting pressure on agencies to help the sailors and they also facilitated our staff to visit ships to take stock of the real situation onboard.”

The mission said in a statement that a meeting of DMCA Executive Director, Operations, Ali Ibrahim Al Daboos with Deputy Consul General K. Muraleedharan, and Consul of Consular Affairs Pankaj Dada, in August resulted in the opening of communication channels between the consulate and DMCA with regards to the problems of stranded Indian crew members.

“It was also decided that the communication (from) the distressed crew is to be shared between the two for speedy action for relief. The Consulate would like to thank all the government authorities who have been supportive to find an effective solution,” the Consulate said.

However, officials pointed out that it is a challenge to coordinate the negotiations with the owners when the ships belong neither to the UAE nor to India. And mostly, that is the case.

“There was a case where we had to trace the owner of a ship in Greece and we found out that he was in jail for drug peddling. It was a long legal procedure to get his power of attorney through his brother to the agency here to get the ship to the anchorage and complete the rest of the formalities to help the crew sign off,” the official said.

In another case, officials had to assist a ship in anchorage off the Ajman coast, to dock at the port as the vessel was so old that the crew feared it would sink any time.

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