RANGOON — The Ministry of Transport has indefinitely suspended five local seafarer recruitment agencies that it alleged had sent Burmese nationals to work on the Russian fishing trawler Dalny Vostok, which sunk off Russia’s far-eastern coast on Apr 2.
Though the Department of Water Transport permits seafarer recruitment agencies, it does not allow them to send Burmese nationals to foreign fishing trawlers, and suspended the operators with immediate effect once news broke of the tragedy on Friday.
“The ship to which they sent the sailors was not the one they said in their application,” said Toe Myint, director of the department’s Seafarers Division. “They failed to report this to us. Even if they sent them to another ship, they would have had to report this to us and seek our approval, as well as submit relevant documents to prove that the ship is recognized by us. They failed to do all these things and that’s why we suspended them.”
A total of 161 seafarer recruitment agencies are registered with the ministry. The suspension of the five agencies is the first of its kind.
Of the 42 Burmese nationals aboard the Dalny Vostok when it sank, 22 were rescued. One has been confirmed dead and nineteen others are missing. Of the suspended agencies, Sea Rider provided the vessel with 27 sailors, while the rest were recruited by Top Chance, Asia Wave, Light Oasis and Star Global.
“Sailors have fewer job opportunities in our country, so we sent them there,” said Soe Tint, a spokesman for Sea Rider. “Our company is trying to take follow-up actions and we are contacting all concerned authorities to ensure some redress for the sailors.”
According to Aung Kyaw Moe, an attaché with the Burmese Embassy in Russia, two rescue vessels will arrive at Korsakov Port in Sakhalin with the wreck’s survivors on Tuesday.
“Burmese survivors have recovered from their critical condition,” he said. “With regard to the missing 19 sailors, we can only check when the rescue vessels arrive to confirm if they are dead or not. We can’t tell at the moment.”
Russia’s Ministry of Labor and Social Protection will reportedly provide US$17,500 in compensation for each victim of the trawler’s sinking.