Mumbai: The 146 Indian crew members on board the Marella Discovery will be allowed to disembark at the offshore container terminal in Mumbai Port on Thursday, around 11am said Sanjay Bhatia, chairman of Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT).
He said, once the seafarers had completed the sign-in and sign-off procedures, they would be tested for Covid-19 and while the results were being awaited, they would be quarantined at a hotel arranged by their company.
"If their test reports are negative, they will be issued an e-pass by the Directorate General of Shipping, India, and they can use this to apply to the local municipal authority to reach their respective places, " Bhatia explained.
Delighted by the news, Vasai resident Greenita, whose husband Maqvin Colaso was among those stranded on the ship, has thanked the Indian government for taking note of their plight after 28 days. She also thanked this newspaper for performing its duty and its timely intervention, compelling the government to act quickly. "I am on cloud nine after learning that they had obtained permission," she said.
The Marella Discovery had left Bangkok port on March 14, with a crew strength of 653 and since then, had remained seaborne for the last 40 days, amid the coronavirus pandemic. She was supposed to depart for Europe on Wednesday afternoon, along with the 146 Indian crew, since there was no sign of help from the Indian authorities. The ship was in Indian waters, just 84 nautical miles away from the Mumbai Coast. Yet, it took 28 days for the authorities to decide.
Maqvin told The Free Press Journal, "It was difficult to get permission but now everything is sorted out and we are happy." The Indian crew was full of admiration for their captain, who took care of everyone in this tough time.