NEW DELHI: The All India Seafarers’ Union has despatched pressing missives to the directorate normal of shipping and German ship administration firm Bernhard Schulte Ship Management (BSM) after big container ship Ever Given, with 25 Indian crew members on board, was disallowed by the Egyptian authorities to leave the Suez Canal till the house owners of the ship pay up $1 billion in compensation for the canal blockage final month. The union demanded that the “Indian crew should be safe and sound, and well-treated by the Egyptian authorities”.
The Panama-registered cargo vessel owned by Japanese shipping firm Shoei Kisen Kaisha has three crew members from Mumbai and largely from southern states like Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. The 2 lakh-tonne cargo vessel, which ran aground on the Suez Canal on March 23 for over per week, continues to be caught in Egypt’s Great Bitter Lake as it has not been allowed to leave.
“The vessel will remain here until investigations are complete and compensation ($1 billion) is paid,” Lt Gen Osama Rabie, who leads the Suez Canal Authority, instructed a neighborhood information station just lately. “We hope for a speedy agreement,” he stated, including that the “minute they agree to compensation, the vessel will be allowed to move.”
In his letters to the DG shipping and BSM, union working president Abhijeet D Sangle demanded that the “Indian crew on board at Ever Given should not be held hostage by the Egyptian authorities. They should be well-treated… In case it gets any complaint, we (union) will definitely demand for the sign-off (of the crew) as soon as possible.”
Talking to TOI, Sangle stated, “The Suez Canal Authority estimates the losses from the week ending March 29, when the Ever Given was stuck (at the canal) and blocked traffic through the canal, at $95 million in lost transit fees. There are also the costs to free the ship and other expenses to reimburse.”
He stated, “There are now two captains on board the ship. First is from Kerala who was leading the ship when the accident happened. The second captain from Chennai is also on board to replace the first one. Other crew members are from Mumbai, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, & some from north India.”
Talking to TOI earlier, DG shipping Amitabh Kumar had stated, “If we receive any complaint from the company that the inquiry is not impartial, then of course we will intervene. But so far we have not received any such complaint.”
When the Ever Given was caught, over 400 cargo vessels and tankers have been stranded on either side of the Suez Canal and Egyptian authorities suffered large monetary losses. It took over 12 days since March 23 for Egyptian authorities to clear the ship backlog from the 193-km strategic passage connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea.