Illegal demands for recruitment fees and withholding of vital travel documents are plaguing seafarers hoping to embark on a career in shipping, reports the National News.
37 per cent of crew exploited for cash or had passports held
In a survey of more than 200 merchant navy sailors conducted by the Mission to Seafarers charity and Liverpool John Moores University in the UK, more than a third said they had been exploited for cash, while 20 per cent said they were offered no training while at sea.
The Gulf is one of the world’s busiest shipping hubs, acting as a transit point for vessels exporting and importing everyday goods and fuel.
According to the research, senior and junior deck officers were most vulnerable to demands from rogue recruitment agents, who look to exploit vulnerable crew looking for a career at sea.
One of those is Dhiraj Jha, 25, who left his family home in Delhi to find work at sea via a shipping agency in Mumbai. Mr Jha was one of five young men recruited to join a company in Iran that operated a chemical tanker out of Bandar Abbas in December 2021.
“The contract was for six months, and I would be paid $250 a month for working on a tanker called the Sea Heart,” Mr Jha told The National.
“When I got to Tehran, I met with an agent who took our documents and then sent us to Bandar Abbas to meet the company. We were then told to start work on a completely different ship.”
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Source: The National News