12 Nov 2020

Samoa govt denies it's abandoning stranded seamen

2:20 pm on 12 November 2020

Samoa's government has been accused of abandoning seamen stranded around the world because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

generic boat waves

generic boat waves Photo: 123RF

The Samoa Observer newspaper reported the world's second largest shipping company was considering a ban on Samoan seamen after the government apparently refused to repatriate stranded nationals.

The report said a leaked email from the Mediterranean Shipping Company hinted at government refusal to allow the 321 nationals in unless shipping companies met the costs of repatriation.

A Samoan government-owned entity, Samoa Shipping Services, handles the placement of seafarers with shipping companies worldwide.

Its CEO called the email leak an act of ''sabotage'' saying it was part of an extended conversation on the repatriation of stranded sailors.

Lautimu'ia Uelese Va'ai said MSC was still hiring Samoan sailors, contrary to rumours.

He said the email circulating now was just part of a longer conversation between management in ironing out and finding the best options.

A repatriation flight from Los Angeles arriving in two weeks was expected to carry the first lot of sailors with the government saying 170 would return before the end of the month.

Hundreds of Samoans work on cruise ships and merchant ships around the world.