Trawlers used to smuggle people into Reunion Island

Fishing trawler owners in Chilaw and the Western maritime area fear to employ their vessels in trade as there has been a trend of using them to smuggle Sri Lankans to Reunion Island, a French colony located in the Indian ocean.

According to police sources, so far three trawlers have reached Reunion, while several others have capsized on their way. One trawler has been seized by the Navy.

Smugglers cheat people, promising that they are being smuggled to France, yet they take people to Reunion; located in the east of Madagascar, 175 km southwest of Mauritius Island.

The last trawler that reached Reunion Island is J. Prasansa; it had 72 people on board. The owner of the trawler; M.J. Sudarshana Perera of Vijaya Mawatha, Chilaw; has made a complaint regarding the incident with the Negombo Police.

He said that he bought the vessel, which is around Rs.15 million, with a bank loan. It left the Negombo shore on January 9 with seven crew members; with Chaminda Kumara Fernando of Thoduwawe, Mahawewa, as the captain.

The trawler set off with food enough for two months and 10,000 litres of fuel. However, the trawler had gone missing since, he added.

According to sources, residents of Chilaw, Karukapane, Udappuwa, and Jaffna are among the smuggled persons. It was also revealed that the captain had charged Rs.800,000 to Rs.1.5 million from them. The captain had also got the engine of the J. Prasansa replaced with a new one before they left for Reunion Island.

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