Govt. continues efforts to release SL crew
Mar 19, 2010
The Foreign Minister called for a report from the Sri Lanka Embassy in Riyadh and the Consulate General in Jeddah on Saudi Arabian vessel ‘MV Al Nasr Al Saudi’ hijacked by pirates along with 13 member crew of Sri Lankan nationals.

The Minister requested the Missions to obtain all details pertaining to the crew members and extend all possible assistance to ensure their welfare and expedite their release.

The Sri Lanka Embassy in Riyadh took prompt action and contacted the Saudi Navel authorities and other connected organizations. The Consul General in Jeddah has also held a series of meetings with the General Manager of the company which owns this ship, he added.

Following these meetings, the General Manager of the shipping company had stated that the family members of the thirteen Sri Lankan crew members had been apprised of the incident through their local representative in Sri Lanka, M/S. Viththy Marine in Colombo, including the actions being taken by the shipping company to secure the release of the crew, he further said.

The Consulate was also informed that the shipping company had established contacts with the pirates through satellite communication and the pirates have assured the shipping company that they would not harm the Sri Lankan crew members.

In addition, the Captain of the vessel had also spoken with the Company officials and had informed that since all the crew members were on board the vessels, they had all necessary basic facilities and that they were in good health. On the request of our Consulate, the company had also made arrangements to credit talk time through a satellite phone to enable the crew members to speak to their families in Sri Lanka. The company had also handed over the salary dues of the Sri Lankan crew for the past two months to our Consulate in Jeddah to be sent to their families in Sri Lanka.

Currently the company is awaiting the arrival of a professional negotiating team from UK to arrive in Jeddah in order to commence negotiations with the pirates following their demand for USD 20Million as ransom for the ship and the crew.

I have instructed our Consulate in Jeddah to liaise with the company and ensure that all necessary action is taken to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the crew and expedite their release. I have also instructed the Consular Affairs Division of this Ministry to assist the families of the crew and provide then with information on this matter on a regular basis, Minister Bogollagama said.

The three Sri Lankan crew members consisting of the vessel’s Captain, Chief Engineer and a crew member have all been released, stated the Foreign Minister.

However, their departure has been delayed as the company had not been able to find replacements for them in time. Action has now been taken to urgently appoint the replacement crew. Once this process is completed, the crew will be repatriated to Sri Lanka. Our High Commission in Kenya and our Missions in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Jeddah are also coordinating this matter, the Minister further stated.

Courtesy: PRIU