The Chinese government news agency has reported that a cargo ship from Jiangsu province with 23 Chinese crew members on board has been detained at India's Haldia port for more than a month with crew members almost without basic necessities.
The ‘Union Demeter’ freighter, owned by Nanjing Tranvast Holdings Limited, set off from Nantong, east China, in July 2016 and unloaded at Haldia port in December. It has been detained ever since by order of a court in Bombay due to unpaid refuelling expenses.
Its Captain, Dai Xiaosong, has since contacted Chinese media for help as Tranvast has declared bankruptcy.
The ship will be held indefinitely until another company can take it over and pay the bills. The Sailors’ unpaid salaries have reached US$ 218,000 after five months of being neglected and the daily costs of berthing the ship are increasing by tens of thousands of dollars every day.
Xiaosong has warned that the stored food, drinking water and fuel on board will run out if there is no other company that can take over the cargo ship, The trapped crew are also at risk of dengue fever.
Each sailor has an insurance based on Maritime Labour Convention, which will allow them to take over the ship if the owner still refuses to solve the problem, but the process of releasing the funds are expected to take a long time.
Han Lei, Manager of the crew’s shipping company Yuan Teng, has reportedly asked agencies in India to supply necessities for those on board and believes the best solution is that the ship owner sells the vessel in order to pay for the release of the crew and the settle the berthing bills.
The ship owner has so far refused to speak about the issue.
This news follows reports earlier this month (February) that a group of seafarers on board a ship held at the Port of Fawley were found to be without warm clothing for days and wages unpaid for three months.