Kenya: Rescued Kenyan Seamen Now Home

Ten Kenyan seafarers who were abandoned in Mozambique by their employer last August arrived at the Moi International Airport in Mombasa last week.

They had been abandoned at Port Pemba in Mozambique by an agent who recruited them to work on the Comoros-registered general cargo ship MV Nina.

The seamen were rescued and repatriated through diplomatic channels between Kenya and Mozambique.

Their plight highlighted rising cases of maritime impropriety on the eastern seaboard of Africa.

"We would like to urge seafarers to follow the right procedures while seeking maritime jobs by ensuring they are recruited by registered agents. We are also working with the Mozambican government to detain the ship until all salaries, allowances and penalties paid to free the 10 crew members are recovered even if it involves auctioning the vessel," said Betty Makena, an official at the Mombasa-based East Africa International Transport Federation.

The crew -- who say they are owed more than $72,000 in salaries and allowances -- were detained in the ship for five months by the Mozambican immigration and their passports confiscated for overstaying in the country.

Frank Mbotela, one of the rescued men, said they were recruited by an agent who disappeared once they arrived in Mozambique and the ship operator refused to honour their work contracts.

Ms Makena said that unregistered agents were taking advantage of the increasing number of unemployed seamen in the region.

"Over the past one year, East Africa ITF office handled 11 cases involving crew members abandoned by agents and left to work in deplorable conditions. We are working with the International Maritime Organisation to reduce these cases," she said.

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