Local Goa News

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Panic over 2 Moroccan stowaways who went missing from ship docked in Goa

Stowaways finally caught in Goa but major security lapse exposed; managed to board ship in Egypt which set sail for Goa; escaped from ship after immigration officials met them and stated legal process to arrest and hand them back to Egyptian authorities

VASCO: This is an expedition for which they will not be hailed. In fact, there’s a doubt whether they  knew where they were heading for and what lay in store for them. In a serious case of security lapse, that also triggered panic among the Immigration Department officials and the Goa Police, two Moroccan national stowaways (person who hides aboard a ship in order to obtain free passage) on board a phosphoric acid tanker escaped from the vessel docked at Mormugao Port on Thursday morning. Goa Police, however, apprehended them near the Goa Shipyard Limited.
The issue also created panic as Goa is set to host the BRICS 2016 Summit which will be attended by the heads of state or heads of government of the five member states – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
The chemical tanker Greenwich Park left ‘Port Said Port’ in Egypt for Mormugao Port on September 3, 2016 with phosphoric acid to be supplied to Zuari Industries Limited (ZIL) factory in Zuarinagar. During the voyage, the captain received information about the presence of two stowaways onboard. Thus, he took assistance of vessel agent in Goa, namely J M Baxi and informed the agent about the presence of two stowaways with the request for assistance from concerned agencies in Goa, so that once the vessel delivers the consignment, both of them can be handed over to Egypt Police.
On September 8, the agent of the vessel informed the immigration, harbour police, Mercantile Marine Department (MMD) and Port Health Officer (PHO) about the presence of the two stowaways on board and sought assistance. To this, MPT had asked the vessel agent to instruct the captain of vessel to take necessary action to ensure that stowaways do not land.
On September 13, the vessel arrived at the anchorage area of Mormugao Port and on September 14, the vessel was parked at berth number 11. Thereafter, immigration staff boarded the vessel and took details of the stowaways. They have been identified as Abdelkebir Benbassid and Jaouad. As they had no travel documents, the immigration officials instructed the vessel captain to ensure strict vigil on them. Thereafter, the immigration staff made periodic rounds on the vessel. Both of them were kept in the locked custody (enclosed room) of Master as they were not allowed to land. However, on Thursday around 10 am; the ship agent informed the port signal station that both the stowaways had escaped from the vessel, explained MPT Chairman I Jeyakumar.
He further said that “soon after MPT received information, we alerted all the concerned agencies to conduct a lookout at the entire port area as moving out through land, they needed to produce documents and thus we launched massive search of escaped stowaways inside the MPT,” he told.
Later, both the escaped stowaways were found near Goa Shipyard Limited and were nabbed by the police. Both of them were again put back in the vessel. The port immigration officials as well as Mormugao Police have started inquiring with the crew members and other concerned officials of the vessel to find how the stowaways managed to escape and whether any staff onboard the vessel was involved.
 “How they both managed to escape would be revealed only after concerned agencies complete their investigation. However, based on this incident, MPT has been working out on standard internal working procedure to deal with such cases and to ensure that such type of escapes do not happen. Also, we would be requesting the local police to deploy two constables in the vessel having such cases,” Jeyakumar told Herald.

Herald Goa News

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