News 08 Jul, 2009

Illegal Disembarkation of Stowaways at Sea in the Cameroon

The Budd Group, our correspondents in Douala, Cameroon have sent us the following report alerting us to an urgent matter:

"Douala's Harbour Master in charge of maritime immigration has just informed us that in an ever-increasing number of cases, ship's agents are taking it upon themselves to organise the disembarkation at sea of Cameroonian stowaways (or stowaways who embarked in the Cameroon) without following the official procedures.

They either fail to inform the appropriate authorities or persuade police officers who are not from the immigration department to assist them.

In order to make money from the shipowners on the fallacious pretext of speeding up the disembarkation process and reducing the costs, they do not inform vessels of the official stowaway disembarkation procedures and intentionally break the rules. In so doing, they render the vessels liable for the risks involved in disembarking stowaways at sea, including the death or injury of the parties concerned.

In the Cameroon, the disembarkation and handling of stowaways must be officially approved and carried out with the assistance of the Immigration Services even if the stowaways claim to be of Cameroon nationality or embarked in the Cameroon.

The Authorities have told us that they will introduce restrictions if this illegal business continues. They have asked us to warn our clients about the dangers to which such malpractice exposes them before a major incident occurs.

We would therefore recommend that the Clubs and their Members be on their guard and exercise due caution in dealing with stowaway cases. When human lives are involved, any failure to respect official procedures may have dramatic consequences for the vessel, its owners and even the P&I Club."

Should you require further information, the contact details of the author are:
Suzanne Moume
Tel: +237 33 42 73 45
Fax : +237 33 43 05 71
Mob: +237 77 78 91 00

The Managers would remind Members of the importance of obtaining the assistance of local P&I Correspondents, details of which are available on this website and in our List of Correspondents.