Rising costs of ice force fishermen to moor up in Al-Lohaia coast
Since the beginning of summer, the amount of fishing has continued to decrease, ceasing completely about a month ago.
Ali Khalofa, a fisherman, is the only one filling his 20 liter tank with gasoline from the Fishermen Assembly Gas Station. Despite the name, fishermen pay the same price for fuel as at other filling stations.
According to Mohammed Hadri, the manager of the station, Sheikh Ibraheem Issa, head of the Fishermen Assembly, has rented the station to an investor for 20 years.
The fishermen have a hard time affording fuel and ice to operate their boats and store the fish.
According to fisherman Ahmed Bajily, they used to buy ice from a plant in the Al-Khoba area near Al-Lohaia. Packages were sold for YR500; however, as there are no other ice plants in the area, the plant’s owner raised prices to YR1000. The same amount of ice is sold in Hodeida for only YR100.
Ahmed and his colleagues stopped fishing several months ago in protest against the high cost of ice. They have already found another ice plant in the Al-Kanawes area, 90 kilometers away from Al-Lohaia.
The new ice plant is owned by Saleh Mofleh. It sells ice for YR500 but the trucks that carry ice to Al-Lohaia are prevented from reaching the plant.
Mofleh said, “The ice plant owner in Al-Lohaia stops trucks from bringing ice from Al-Kanawes to force people to buy exclusively from his plant.”
Ahmed Al-Shar’abi, Deputy Security Chief of Al-Lohaia, said that there are agreements between ice plant owners to monopolize the sale of ice to fishermen.
A shrimp company lays off 100 employees
The Ba Muslim Sea Creatures Company, located near Jabal Al-Melh in Al-Lohaia, is a shrimping company that catches shrimp off the coast of the Red Sea and keeps them fresh in storage tanks until they have matured enough to be sold at the market.
Fishermen on the Al-Lohaia coast began to work for the company ten years ago. Due to last year’s uprising and increasing oil prices, though, the company was forced to lay off a hundred employees.
The workers who feed the shrimp receive YR600 per day. They work without a formal contract with the company, which means that they can be laid off at any time.
Aqeel Ibraheem, a former employee, said that the company laid them off without giving them any rights.
Ibraheem said that this happens every six months when the five to six tons of shrimp finish maturing and are ready to be sold for millions of riyals.
Abduljabbar Maghfori, another newly redundant worker, said the company depends on a sheikh to bring workers. They are paid low wages without any unemployment rights.
Workers reported that two employees died working for the company. One of them was killed in a tank accident, while the other died from the toxic odor of the shrimp food. The company never compensated their families.