Madagascan crew stranded in Mombasa finally return home

Six Madagascan sailors who were stranded at the Port of Mombasa for over a year after the owner of a vessels they worked aboard abandoned them jetted out of the country for their home destination on Tuesday.

According to Missions to Seafarers Mombasa chaplain, Rev Moses Muli, the six sailors flew back home after they were paid their accumulative wages by the owner of the vessel MV Rozen.

Several agencies including the Mission to Seafarers, Seamen Union of Kenya, Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) and the International Transport Federation (ITF) intervened after the matter was brought to their attention on the plight of the sailors.

The sailors who have been living in squalid conditions aboard MV Rozen, the former St Vincent and Grenadines general cargo ship reached out for help after more than a year aboard the vessel that has never left the Port of Mombasa.

'' It has been another successful episode that ended when they (sailors) were paid their dues and provided with air tickets to Madagascar,'' Rev Muli said.

He said that the Mission to Seafarers took over the feeding and day accommodation for the sailors for over a month as negotiations with their vessel owner progressed.

Its flag state, according to multiple maritime sources ceased and hence it become stateless and now unable to sail. Currently the 86 metre long vessel is moored at Mtongwe anchorage within Mombasa Port.

According to International Transport Federation (ITF) Mombasa Port Ship Inspector, Ms Betty Makena, the vessel was previously owned by Mombasa based shipping company, Motaku Shipping Agency who later sold it to a Malagasy national.

Makena said that they have interrogated the crew who have spoken of intimidation and threats by the new owner.

''They have told us that the owner has threatened to deal with them after they resorted to report him to Kenyan authorities,'' Makena said.

The six Madagascan nationals who communicate through an interpreter, Mr Yusuf Kiyemba who also serves as the local owner representative were identified as Celisen Rahova ( chief officer),Raleh Nantenalihina Jackson , Heriniaina Mammy Victorian ( able seaman), Randraro Yvon (boswain), Alphonse Matelot ( able seaman) and Randriamanga Bernadin( chief cook).

MV Rozen made history at the height of piracy off the Somali Coast when it was twice hijacked by Somali pirates as it carried relief aid meant for drought stricken Somalis under a United Nations aid programme

Its first known hijacking was in March 2006 when armed pirates several shot at the vessel. It however managed to escape after it master altered course and prevented pirates from boarding.

In 2007, it was not lucky, again transporting World Food Programme (WFP) after pirates captured it as it heading to Mombasa Port after discharging food aid to Bossaso and Berbera

MV Rozen was captured by pirates off the Northeast of Somalia while under way to Mombasa after discharging WFP food aid to Bossaso and Berbera.