Feb 9, 2011
General
caxias
A vessel hijacked last year by Somali pirates has been released, sending a sigh of relief among anxious relatives.
A vessel hijacked last year by Somali pirates has been released, sending a sigh of relief among anxious relatives.

Thirty nine Kenyans are among the ship’s crew. The vessel was the second to be released in as many weeks “under mysterious circumstances,” said East African Seafarers’ Assistance Programme coordinator Andrew Mwangura.

“The vessel was released early today (Wednesday) and there has not been any report of a ransom payment. We don’t know the conditions under which it was released,” he said told the Nation by telephone.

“I am excited by the news. We had started giving up, but we are now relieved,” Ms Elizabeth Molly, whose husband is a crew member.

The South Korean fishing vessel, Fv Golden Wave, was seized on October 9, last year. Its other crew members are two Koreans and two Chinese. (Read: Relatives of 39 Kenyans held by pirates recount last moments)

The release marks freedom for the ship’s crew, which had been held hostage for four months — with at least four of them having gone through the ordeal for a second time.

Ms Mary Kanja’s husband Richard Kanja has been a seaman for over 10 years and she recalls the experience she went through when her husband was held two years ago.

“They are tortured. I only hope that they are safe as they travel back,” she said, adding that the four months they have been held captive had been “too long to bear.”

“When I spoke to him a couple of days before they were hijacked, he told me they were okay and would be home soon. But I was shocked to learn later they were hijacked,” added the mother of four.

At least three families have more than one relative aboard Fv Golden Wave. Besides Ms Kanja, whose two brothers-in-law are on the ship with her husband, Mr Moris Ivetsi and Ms Caroline Vusyeka have a brother and two brothers-in-law on the vessel.

According to Mr Mwangura, the vessel was expected at the Mombasa port in about four days. Fv Golden Wave was among three vessels hijacked within the Kenyan waters last year. Police have denied this.

However, the government tightened security on the Kenya-Somalia border, with police headquarters sending a helicopter and one light aircraft for surveillance along the coastline.

Pirates operating off the Somali coast and the Gulf of Aden have posed the biggest threat ever to world maritime trade by hijacking ships for ransom, prompting the international community to station their navies in the area to thwart frequent attacks.

Despite the navies’ presence, the sea bandits have successfully attacked and hijacked vessels.

Three weeks ago, the Inter-governmental Standing Committee on Shipping said it would invite Somali leaders to its meetings with a view of finding lasting solutions to the thorny issue.

The committee’s chairman, Mr Athuman Mfutakamba, said the problem of piracy had become a serious threat to maritime trade in the region and it was time the Somali transitional government was involved in seeking solutions.

“The number of shipping lines calling on the ports within the region has fallen drastically due to piracy and maritime insurance premiums are on the rise. Consumers are being burdened with extra costs arising from the rising freight costs and the problem must be dealt with urgently,” he said.
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