Logistics

India advises its seafarers not to sign off from ships till situation eases

P Manoj Mumbai | Updated on May 08, 2021

Around 2.5 lakh Indian seafarers are employed on merchant ships

Travel restrictions imposed by countries has made repatriation of seafarers unsafe and difficult

India has “advised” its seafarers not to sign off from ships on completing their contracts, for one month or till the situation improves, as several nations re-introduce travel curbs in view of the surge in Covid cases in the country.

“The spread of coronavirus and the cross-border movement restrictions imposed by these countries has made repatriation of seafarers unsafe and difficult once they sign off at foreign ports. It has also become difficult to provide replacement seafarers for those signing off,” Subhash Barguzer, Deputy Director General of Shipping (Crew) wrote in an 8 May circular.

“In view of this, Indian seafarers presently on board are strongly advised to desist from signing off from the vessel, except in case of extreme emergency/ medical exigencies, for a period of one month or till the situation improves,” Barguzer wrote.

Seafarers whose tenure on board exceeds 11 months (the maximum set by the Maritime Labour Convention) have been asked to inform the Directorate General of Shipping for further advise, he added.

The move has taken the seafarers by surprise.

“Only now we were actually looking at some semblance of normalcy (on crew change) and now this,” said Uma Maheshwar, a seafarer. “India being a major flag and port state, actively discouraging crew change when the whole world is clamouring for the same, it drives away jobs from our hands,” he said.

Published on May 08, 2021

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