The four seafarers from Ghana — Mohammad Mustapha, 38, Issah Sawudu, 49, Iddriss Mohammad, 48, and Abakah Francis, 60 — who were rescued from a stranded ship two nautical miles off the city’s coast and sent back home on Wednesday, had first approached the Bombay high court in 2015 — four years after they were first stranded.
On Monday, the vessel was sold off as scrap. The National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI) had told the court it will take the responsibility to ensure the petitioners were sent home.
While Suwadu told the court he had not been paid his salary since 2009, others said they had not been paid their salaries since 2011. They said they had been living on the ship with “no electricity, and very little food and medicines” and sought that the court direct their employers to pay them their dues and arrange for them to go back home.
The first form of relief came on May 6 when justice SK Kathawalla approved the arrest warrant for the vessel owners, and ordered the petitioners be paid by selling off the vessel.
“Louis Gomes, an official of the NUSI mentions that his organisation undertakes to repatriate the four crew members on board the Defendant Vessel No. 1 and also provide for their food and accommodation in the interim and also arrange for the crew’s air tickets. The undertaking is accepted. The Bureau of Immigration is requested to sign off and issue an exit permit to the four Ghanaian crew stranded on the vessel MV Seabulk Plover/Magnum V to enable them to be repatriated to their home country i.e. Ghana at the earliest possible. In the meanwhile, NUSI is requested to take responsibility for their maintenance, repatriation, food etc.,” justice Kathawalla said.