By Mary Aheebwa -Friday July 12, 2019.
An official of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) in East Africa, Betty Makena has said fifteen Kenyan fishermen have been held in a vessel owned by a Somali fishing company.
Makena told the press she received a distress call regarding the fishermen working in the vessel named FV Marwan I operating in Somali. “The fishermen got my contact from some of their colleagues who they interact with and sent me the details and the pictures on their sufferings. Majority of them are sick and they need urgent medical attention,” she echoed.
Additional reports say they’re being forced to work at gunpoint without pay, National Telegraph has learned. Betty Makena went on that they’re in dire need of assistance to return home.
The fishermen, who were hired by an unlicensed agent in Mombasa in April this year, are working in deplorable conditions and living and sleeping in the open, Makena said.
In a further statement, she mentioned that from pictures and information on her desk, many of them are injured without medical care. Eyewitnesses say the employer is forcing the fishermen to work for long hours. Those who play dilly-dally are shown the guns.
In April 16, 2019, thirteen (13) were hired by Seaport Operations Limited, moved to Somalia where they met two other Kenyans who were already employed.
Quoting terms of employment found on file, Somlink Fisheries Investment, the company that owns the fishing vessel, had agreed to pay the fishermen Ksh26,000 ($260) monthly, Makena said, adding that and they are yet to receive any payment since they left Mombasa in April.
Secretary General of Kenya Seafarers Union (KSU), Stephen Owaki revealed the employer failed to follow required procedures, adding that names of employees weren’t register with the union.
Reports say the fishermen though haven’t been paid, the proposed salary is less than the law requires of Ksh90,000 ($900) per month. Others say the already Kenya/Somalia maritime border suspicious relationship may only further deteriorate.