The 10 Kenyan seafarers abandoned for three months in Mozambique by their employer were forced to beg for food and drinking water from villagers in Pemba to survive.
The seamen, who arrived in the country on Wednesday narrated how they were duped by an agent who sneaked them through Tanzania to Mozambique for work on board Mv Nina.
The captain of the ill-fated ship, Frank Mbotela, yesterday said they were recruited by Spanfreight Ltd Mozambique that promised to give them employment contracts once they arrived in Pemba.
When they got there and boarded the ship, the agent disappeared, leaving them with the ship owner who engaged them in cat and mouse game over the contracts. Their passports, continuous discharge certificates (CDCs) and record books were later confiscated by Mozambican authorities after it emerged that they had overstayed.
Mbotela said they were detained and fined Sh130,000 for overstaying in the country. The fine was paid by International Transport Federation (ITF).
“We sensed deceit when we arrived in Mozambique. He confiscated our passports and sneaked us through the airport and our passports were not stamped to indicate we had entered the country,” he said.
He added that the ship owner was to employ them for one trip to deliver goods to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from Pemba.
According to the verbal contract, the Kenyans were to be engaged for one-and-half months, but the voyage was postponed several times for lack of food and water for the crew.
“At one time, the ship ran out of fuel, it had no lighting and no provisions on board, including fresh water and food,” narrated Mbotela who has worked as a seafarer for over 20 years.
According to Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA), the seafarers were abandoned on board MV Nina in October 2019 in the Port of Pemba.
Others were Mbarak Sultan, Gabriel Okumu, Norman Khan, Okelo Ochola, Raphael Ochina, Mbarak Timami, Haad Mashuhuri, Joseph Mwanyambo and Kali Mwamose.
Among the 10 seafarers rescued by KMA and International Transport Federation (ITF) was a 26-year-old cadet, Ali Said.
“It was my first time as a cadet aboard a ship and it turned out to be an unforgettable ordeal,” said Ali.
KMA Director General Major (Rtd) George Okong’o said they reported the matter to ship’s ‘flag state’ the Republic of Comoros for intervention.
Mbotela said the ship owner owes them an accrued salary of Sh7.416 million.
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