Monrovia – Members of the United Seamen and Ports Workers Union of Liberia say they are now working under fear due to the constant and mysterious deaths of their colleagues over the period.
“Since the Government gave the Chinese Company license to operate on Liberian waters about three to four months ago, five of our members have died and we are worried,” says Freeman Gueh, Vice President of the Union.
The latest call is in reference to the death of Cyrus King, 31, who died on Saturday on high seas while carrying out his normal activities.
The group said they are not pointing accusing fingers at anyone for the death of their member but wants the satellite cameras which usually captures all activities on board the vessel to be released in order to find out what really killed their member to determine the actual cause of death.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Mr. Samuel Siafa, President of the Union Samuel Siafa alleged that the ship’s captain is refusing to make the tape available, which is raising eyebrows amongst the union members.
According to Siafa, the cameras onboard the vessel normally runs on a twenty-four-hour basis and is sophisticated enough to capture all activities. It is for this reason that Siafa wonders why they are refusing to make the tape available.
“Since the Government gave the Chinese Company license to operate on Liberian waters about three to four months ago, five of our members have died and we are worried”– Freeman Gueh, President, United Seamen and Ports Workers Union of Liberia
The union executive explained that on one occasion, one of his members allegedly stole a fish onboard the vessel and was captured by the camera and revealed on the tape.
At the same time, Mr. Gueh, Vice President of the Group Freeman Gueh is calling for complete fair-play into the investigation.
He wants national government to see the need to protect its workforce at all times, demanding the release of the tape to be played. “Let the police and national government do the right thing for its people”, Gueh, lamented.
Currently, only one Chinese company, Gueh says has been given license to operate on Liberian waters, something he believes is responsible for the manner and form in which his members are being treated. “If the tape is not played to know exactly what killed our member”, we will advise ourselves, Gueh stated.
Meanwhile one of the members on board the vessel Eugene Seekie alleges that they have been ill-treated by the Chinese over the period but no one has been able to stand up and speak for them. As a result, they have to force themselves to continue working just to help sustain their families. “We are normally insulted, slapped and kicked by Chinese employers while working, but we cannot do anything, Seeking alleged.
Seekie narrated that he saw blood oxen from the neck, eye and other body parts of his colleague when he was taken from the fishing net last Saturday. Although he is not accusing anyone, he says, he says it is important for the tape to be made available to determine what led to their friend’s death.
The situation, the union says, is now instilling fear amongst its members.
When contacted via mobile, an official of the Trans Ocean Maritime Fishing Agency Alfred Lame denied the accusations being made by the union membership regarding the tape availability.
Mr. Lame referred FPA to the homicide division of the Liberia National Police for further inquiries. When our reporter inquired, the police could only say that the matter is under investigation.