Living on the ill-fated vessels held by Vinalines are the crewmen who lead tough lives since their wages are not enough for them to make ends meet.
The crew members on Song Gianh ship, Photo: Tuoi Tre
The US$19.2-million Song Gianh vessel that has been docked in the MAR2 area on the Saigon River for four years has become known by locals and crew members as “Song Gianh pagoda,” as there is a Vietnamese proverb that goes “as desolated as Ba Danh pagoda.”
All of the crew members say they are totally fed up with the boring life on the almost-dead ship, which is always full of mosquitoes even during the day.
Crewmen have taken turns living on and taking care of the ship for a few years, they said.
There are currently five men on the vessel, including a captain, a vice-captain, and three crewmen.
“Our job is to protect the ship from robbers and harsh weather, and take care of the anchor,” said captain Doan Ngoc Bach, who has been taking the helm of many huge vessels since 1976.
Despite his experience, Bach still had no choice but to accept to stand still on Song Gianh ship, he said.
“I’ve spent time doing nothing on the Hoa Sen when it was docked dormant in a Chinese port, and was sent to look after the Song Gianh earlier this year.
“While it’s OK for a seasoned captain like me to stay on the ship, it’s a great pity for the young crew members as no one knows when they will really be able to sail on the ocean.
“While staying here, they not only learn no professional knowledge, but they also receive modest wages,” shared Bach.
All three crewmen on the ship are fresh maritime graduates who have yet to sail on any journeys.
“It’s also hard to give up on the career given the great effort we put forth at school,” said Hoang Dinh Long, one of the three.
Similarly, at the No83M floating dock, which was intended to handle the repairs for Vinalines’ shipping fleet but has itself been under constant maintenance over the last four years, crew members are now taking the job of security guard.
“I’m bored to death by the dark future of sticking to this useless equipment,” said D., a mechanic who has been living on the floating dock for three years.
“I have to make use of the time when I am allowed to go ashore to work part-time for mechanical facilities to earn a livelihood,” shared D.
“You cannot earn daily bread for yourself with the payment here, let alone for your family,” he continued.
D said his initial wage was VND2.6 million ($124.8) a month, but since he was switched to taking care of the dock rather than repairing it, he is not sure what his wage will be.
“I have no idea how much wage is left, yet I’m granted VND2 million a month to buy food.”
While the wages of some crew members have been halved, the company has also delayed their payments for months.
“I’ve worked for the ship for more than a year now, but the company still owes me six months of salary,” said Nguyen Van Toi, the youngest crew member on the Song Gianh.
“Although the contract has yet to end, I’m writing a resignation to look for another job.”
Meanwhile, Hoang Dinh Long said he could not afford medical treatment for his 2-year-old son due to the debt owed him from Vinalines.
“The company has yet to pay me salary for March and April,” he lamented.
Source: Tuoi Tre
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