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Indonesian crew trapped in port cleared to leave

Eight Indonesians who had been confined to a cargo ship in the Port of Kaohsiung for more than eight months have been allowed to disembark and were awaiting a flight home, the Maritime and Port Bureau said.

The crew members of the Togo-registered Jian Ye left the ship on Friday and were staying in a shelter in Kaohsiung managed by the Indonesian Economic and Trade Office (IETO), the bureau said in a statement.

They were yesterday expected to return to Jakarta on a flight from Kaohsiung International Airport, it said.

After leaving the ship, one of the crew, a 22-year-old Indonesian sailor, said he was happy to be finally going home and was looking forward to seeing his mother and the rest of his family.

The Indonesians, along with one Chinese crew member, arrived on Feb. 23 on the Jian Ye, which had been towed into the port after losing power near Taiwan.

The crew could not all disembark until a new crew relieved them, as Taiwanese regulations state that a vessel cannot be left in port with less than one-third of its crew.

The Indonesians could not decide who among them should remain on the ship, so they all stayed, as the vessel’s owner did not have enough money to hire a replacement crew, the bureau said.

In a statement last month, the Indonesian crew members said they had not received their regular wages while the Ministry of Transportation and Communications was forcing them to remain on the ship.

For the past eight months, Stella Maris Chaplain Father Ansensius Guntur and the IETO had been taking food and basic necessities to the sailors on the Jian Ye, a 1,266-tonne vessel owned by a Hong Kong company.

Guntur had also questioned the legality of the Indonesian crew being made to remain on the ship after their contracts ended on Sept. 6, when they also signed a work termination agreement with their employer.

Under the agreement, each crew member was to receive US$700 in cash, and they agreed to waive their rights to file civil or criminal lawsuits or complaints.

It would also pay airfare and expenses for them to fly to Jakarta.

To facilitate the return of the crew, the bureau said it asked the ship owner to employ two Taiwanese, who would remain with the Chinese sailor on the vessel to meet regulations.
Source: Taipei Times

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