They were later directed by the ship owner who called them nearly halfway their journey to make a detour and offload at Port El Maan in Somalia territory instead. ”We obeyed and did as what was directed for us to do and on our journey back ended up in Mogadishu Port after encountering very rough seas,” he said. It was while at Mogadishu Port that Port authorities and security teams boarded their vessel for mandatory Port inspections and took away their vital documents that included passports and seamen books. ”These have never been returned to date,” he said.
And as is if to make matters worse, the owner of the vessel, a dhow registered vessel that flies a Zanzibari flag has abandoned them. ”We have been surviving on donated food from the Kenya Navy personnel who are part of the Amisom team currently on deployment mission in Kismayo,” Captain Omollo said. Apart from being abandoned, the crew cumulatively are yet to be paid $ 4840 (Sh432,000) since they joined the ship.
It is after this incident that Omollo decided to head to Kismayo where their safety could be guaranteed. “This unseaworthy ship has become our floating prison since June as we await help from the Kenyan government to travel back home,” he said. The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) Mombasa Ship Inspector, Ms Betty Makena who has been following on the case of crew from Al- Annamar 1 said that the owner who lives in Mombasa has gone underground. ”Despite summoning him to my office, he has remained adamant. I have informed Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) on the case and hope that they will follow up with relevant government agencies to compel the owner to repatriate the crew back home to Kenya,” she said.
Capt Omollo said that since the vessel lost its main anchor after it fell off into the deep waters, they have been afraid to venture out into open seas as its navigational capabilities is hindered. ”We were able to cruise at a speed of 10 knots on our initial days in the voyage when we set off from the Port of Mombasa. Today, that is next to impossible with terrible weather, we are only able to do 1 knot which is not enough for good sailing,” Capt Omollo said.Meanwhile, the family’s debts are piling up.