Lucky escape for Kenyan illegal fishermen after ordeal in Somalia

August 03 – Thirteen Kenyan fishermen stranded in Somalia have finally arrived back home. The fishermen who had been recruited to work illegally aboard a Somali flagged fishing vessel, Marwan 1, described their ordeal at the hands of their employers as ‘deathly.’

The Kenyans were abandoned by their employer aboard the vessel without food and other supplies.

“We never knew peace. Right from day one when we embarked on the fishing voyage, things did not add up. We are yet to be paid our four months salary,” said Mittau Makau who was a bosun on the vessel. A bosun is a ship’s officer in charge of equipment and the crew.

He claimed their contact person in Mombasa failed to help them when they raised concern. Mr Makau further alleged that Omar Said Gakuria was assaulted by a relative of the ship owner who later threatened to shoot all Kenyans onboard.

He explained that they had a successful sea fishing voyage landing a record 275 tons of fish that included 20 tons of prawns.  Makau believes that the decision to order them out of the ship in the middle of their voyage was designed to deny them their dues.

 “In fact, we were forced to disembark away from a designated port and put onto a small boat. It was a dangerous sea journey to dry land as the waters were rough,” he said.  The Kenyans explained that more trouble awaited them as they reached dry land.

“We endured a nine hour journey by road in two Land Cruisers through an area controlled by Al Shabaab Islamic fighters,” Raymond Mwasigha, a crew said.  They were led to a house that they later learnt belonged to the ship owner.

“When we finally arrived, we were subjected to inhuman treatment. The ship owner asked to be given the duty roll call and heavily deducted our pay,” Jackson Sirya, who served as the vessel’s chef said.

The fishermen said the Kenyan ambassador to Somalia, Maj Gen Lucas Tumbo called and assured them that plans were underway to return them back home.

“After deductions, we were given $500 and others got $450. We used this money to purchase air tickets from Garowe International Airport to Jomo Kenyatta International  Airport,” Makau said.

The fishermen lauded International Transport Federation Mombasa Ship Inspector Betty Makena for highlighting their plight.

Owners of the ship have been listed as Somlink Fisheries Investments while Seaport Operations Limited recruited the fishermen.

These 13 Kenyan fishermen were among hundreds of illegal foreign fishers in Somalia’s waters. According to their stories they were assisted by both Somali and Kenyan politicians for carrying out dangerous illegal fishing activities in Somalia.

Hornnews24 with standardmedia

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