The growing number of refugees from especially Africa is also felt by the shipping companies who have found an increased number of people hiding on the ships until the ships are in international waters.
That is the trend reported by the P&I clubs and a trend which is recognised by Skuld. Last year, Skuld was involved in 62 cases in which a total of 100 stowaways had to be offloaded. Other than a constantly more outspoken trend, the costs of offloading the passengers and sending them back to their land of departure have also increased significantly. For example, the price of offloading an African stowaway in South America has reached USD 70,000. The prices have grown as the local authorities often demand for several guards to be sent to a ship arriving with a stowaway just as it is expensive to pay for lodging, paper works and repatriation. According to Skuld Claims Executive, Morten Bjerregaard Christiansen, the P&I club has had an example of a case in which five stowaways from Senegal were offloaded in Sydamerika at a total price of USD 426,000.
“Feedback from our members shows that they have more trouble offloading the stowaways and an increased level of costs in doing so if their expenses are not covered. Prices range from USD 17,000 in West Africa to as much as USD 70,000 in South America”, he tells ShippingWatch.
Skuld encourages the shipping companies to always look carefully for stowaways before departure in e.g. lifeboats. At a recent meeting on e.g. the precautions when finding stowaways, Skuld further underlined that the captain must contact his agent in the port of call and his P&I club when finding a stowaway when the ship has reached the sea.
“The captain must assess if he would be better off turning around or continuing but under normal circumstances, the captain will choose to continue towards his destination as it is too expensive to turn around”, Morten Bjerregaard Christiansen said at the meeting.
The captain is required to obtain personal information such as name and language from the stowaway and take a picture in order to make a new passport at arrival in the port of call. Furthermore, the captain is responsible for the stowaway who must be treated humanely.
Shipping companies take several measures in order to make sure the ships do not take on stowaways. They do so by using e.g. guards onboard or by checking freight with x-rays or by having video surveillance installed.