Fifteen crewmembers who were stranded on board an abandoned vessel in Dakhla port, Morocco, for nine months have finally been repatriated.
The 14 Ghanaian and one Ukrainian crew were left on board the Panamanian flagged Remora 1, which was abandoned by its Norwegian owners Atlantic RTI. The owners refused to pay for food, water or fuel for the seafarers or to cover the cost of repatriating them. The ship’s Dutch bank financiers, Bank HBU, which has been investigating ways of recovering its losses, also refused to assist the crew. The crew are currently owed a total of US$483,936 in wages.
However, the local union, Syndicat des Capitanes et Officers de la Marine Marchande Affilie a La CDT (SCOMM-CDT) in Casablanca stepped into the breach. Its representatives met with maritime and government authorities to secure permission for the seafarers to be repatriated. It also worked with the Ghanaian consulate in Casablanca, which agreed to meet the cost of repatriating seafarers from Casablanca to Ghana; the cost of repatriating the Ukrainian crewmember was covered by his own family. Meanwhile, the ITF paid for transport from Dakhla to Casablanca – a distance of over 3000 kilometres – as well as hotel expenses and a subsistence allowance for each crewmember.
Facilitated by the ITF Arab World office, ITF inspector Mohammed Arrachedi worked with the union. He explained: “It was a pleasure to carry out coordination work with Ali Benwakrim and Aziz Khamlichi of the SCOMM-CDT. I congratulate them on the good job they did for the cause of the seafarers and for solidarity.”
Finlay McIntosh, ITF maritime operations, stated: “Without the assistance of SCOMM-CDT, ITF inspector Mohamed Arrachedi and the Ghanaian consulate, those seafarers would still be in the port. The captain and the crew are also to be commended – they stood together in these trying times.
“Unfortunately the crewmembers are still owed wages totalling almost US$500,000. The local union is looking at ways to ensure that the seafarers’ claim is recognised once a decision has been made regarding the vessel.”
Source: ITF News Online