Yilan planning onshore accommodation for migrant fishermen

TAIPEI (CNA) — The Yilan County Labor Affairs Department has started the planning process for building onshore accommodation for migrant fishermen in the port of Nanfang’ao, a labor official said Tuesday.

Lee Fang-ching (李芳菁), Yilan County Labor Affairs Department deputy director, told CNA that the project will be conducted in three phases, with approximately 300 beds to be offered in the first phase, which will take two years to complete, with the number increasing in phases two and three.

“The final goal is to provide onshore accommodation for all of Nanfang’ao’s migrant fishermen,” she said.

Lee revealed the plan in response to calls by migrant rights and church groups who called for migrant fishermen to be able to live onshore instead of sleep on the boats on which they work.

Joy Tajonera, a Filipino priest, stressed the importance of land-based accommodation in the wake of the collapse of a bridge in Nanfang’ao last week that left six migrant fishermen dead and 19 homeless when their boats were crushed.

“I hope that this incident will serve as a lesson for all of us, especially the Taiwan authorities and employers, that people (fishermen) should not live on boats, because boats are a place of work and not a home,” he said.

Father Gioan Tran Van Thiet, a Vietnamese priest, said that the 19 homeless migrant fishermen lost all of their belongings, including their passports and savings.

The 19 fishermen have been placed in temporary onshore locations, with 16 Filipinos in one location and three Indonesians in another.

CNA visited the 16 Filipino fishermen and found some of them to be sleeping on cardboard on the floor. However, their employer is providing them with three meals per day and is also still paying their wages, the fishermen said.

Tseng Yen-pu (曾彥博), a representative of Sang Yi International Co., Ltd. manpower agency, the broker for the fishermen, said two are going back to the Philippines, three wish to stay on as fishermen, while the majority wish to be transferred to factory jobs.

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