BY Kelechukwu Iruoma
THE Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, has been called to look into the plight of the crew of two detained ships, MT United Trader and MT United Venture, who has been detained for nine months.
While making this call, the Captain of one of the ships which is owned by a Chinese firm, Captain Hassan Adeola said the vessel is being detained as a result of a court order over an alleged default in the payment of bunker by the owner.
He said the failure of the owners of the vessel to pay the crew members since they were detained, is making them experience hardship.
His words: “They stopped supplying food to us. We made several efforts to reach the Managing director and when we finally got him on phone, he said that he is no longer managing the vessel.
“It was as a result that, that we started going to NIMASA to compel the ship owners to pay us our salaries, supply us bunker, food, and water. We were, however, told be patient. They said we must not abandon the vessel for it to be washed away.
“Six of us lost patience and left while seven of us stayed on. It was in the third month that we heard that the bunker supplier had obtained a court order to detain the ship. When Navy came to detain the vessel, they said we cannot leave. We have been surviving on the magnanimity of those holding us captive as they give us part of their food which we cook with rainwater.
‘”All we want now is to be allowed to leave the ship and let our nine months’ salary be paid to us. If the owners are still interested in running their vessel after settling their issues with their bunker supplier, they can look for a new crew.”
He, however, said the owner of the vessel paid five months out of the salary arrears being owed the crew last Friday.