By Dickson Wekesa
Fifteen seafarers are stranded in Malindi town in Kilifi County after their Korean employer, the vessel’s caption and engineer, abandoned them.
The seafarers, who work in a crab-fishing vessel christened Ahadi 001, claimed that their employer Yang Xian together with the two others disappeared on Monday after the vessel docked at the Malindi Jetty, and their efforts to contact them have been futile.
They claimed that they were distressed because they had not been paid for three months, with accumulative salary arrears amounting to more than Sh1.9 million.
They were rescued by the chairman of the Shella Beach Management Unit, Mr. Yunus Aboud, and taken to the Malindi Police Station, where they recorded statements on the incident.
Mr. Kennedy Otieno, one of the seafarers, said Mr. Xian abandoned them on Monday, and efforts to contact him on phone had been futile despite the fact that he resides in Malindi town.
“We are appealing to the government to intervene and bring these people to book because we have been left without food and other necessities since our employer owes us more than Sh1.9 million in salaries that he has not paid us for the last three months,” said Mr. Otieno.
Mr. Otieno called on the authorities responsible for sea activities such as the Kenya Fisheries Service (KFS) and the Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) to ensure that foreigners wishing to fish in Kenya provide adequate information about themselves before being licensed.
“They should be made to sign proper contracts with their employees and provide guarantees so that they can be held accountable in cases such as this,” he told journalists at the Malindi Jetty.
His colleague, Mr. Ezekiel Odhiambo, said for the last four days, they had been having difficulties getting food and water and asked the authorities to help search for their employer and his accomplices.
Mr. Mwaega Wato Kombo, one of the seafarers, said he and his colleagues were worried that they would not be able to provide for their families if their employer would not turn up and pay them their dues.
He asked the authorities to seize the vessel and other items aboard it and sell them so the workers can get their money.
Shella Beach Management Unit chairman, Mr. Aboud, said he rescued the abandoned seafarers and helped them report the matter to the Malindi police station.
“I have also decided to provide basic necessities such as food and water for three days, but I ask the government to come to their aid,” he said.
He also accused Chinese and Korean vessel owners of destroyed the fishing gear of local fishermen and urged the government to ensure such vessel owners are forced to compensate for the losses incurred.