The crew of a Maldivian ship detained in the Indian port city of Kochi have been told they can finally return to the Maldives after a seven month wait.
The owner of the vessel, Managing Director of Mallinks Pvt Ltd Ibrahim Rasheed, had told crew members back in January that they must attempt to sell the ship or risk being stranded in India indefinitely.
MV Morning Star had been detained by Indian authorities in July 2012 after the vessel it had been towing from the Maldives sank in Indian waters.
Transport Authority Chairman Abdul Rasheed Nafiz said on Monday (March 18) that the ship had now been sold by the Indian courts and the crew will be able to return to the Maldives.
“The crew can return back any time now, but at present they are waiting to receive the money they are owed from the sale of MV Morning Star,” Nafiz said.
The Transport Authority Chairman told Minivan News earlier this year that the crew had gone without pay for over five months prior to January, and had been relying on a union in India to provide them with food.
“The same union is taking care of the crew at the moment whilst they wait for their pay,” Nafiz confirmed today.
Following the sinking of the vessel back in July, a ruling by the Indian Judiciary stated that the ship, along with the crew, would not be allowed to sail out of the port until the sunken vessel had been salvaged.
The ship’s crew had been advised by Rasheed in January to sell the vessel as he could not personally afford to pay for their return.
Speaking to Minivan News today, Rasheed confirmed that the Indian courts had reached a verdict to sell the vessel for US$165,000.
“The captain and crew of the ship can deduct their salaries from the sale of the ship. I spoke to the captain yesterday (March 17) and he told me he will pay the crew,” Rasheed said.
“The unions who helped support the crew will also be able to take their share of owed money,” he added.
Rasheed previously claimed that MV Morning Star would have been able to sail out of the port had the sunken vessel – MV Sea Angel – been salvaged.
According to Rasheed, both ships had been insured by Allied insurance and it had been the insurance company’s responsibility to salvage the sunken ship.
“We had fully insured both ships. The insurance company gave us a wage policy and in the policy they have written, ‘within 40 days we have to sail the vessels’, which we did.
“The insurance company needs to take responsibility, but they are saying no,” Rasheed said back in January.
MV Morning Star had been towing MV Sea Angel to a port in India for it to be scrapped, however just eight miles from Kochi, the 26 metre vessel began to sink.
Speaking today, Rasheed said that he had now filed a case against Allied Insurance, and is currently waiting for the next hearing to be scheduled in court.