DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA — Representatives from the Council of Lords released a statement today clarifying the circumstances surrounding the seizure of multiple cargo vessels steaming into the port of Durban earlier this week. According to the press release, intelligence efforts uncovered evidence of a large scale animal smuggling operation being carried out using several cargo ships to avoid suspicion. The crews have been detained and the vessels impounded while the investigation continues.
Shortly after the Council released its statement, the Oceanic Freight Haulers Union (OFHU) announced that it was beginning an investigation of the Confederation of African Warlords in response to complaints from the steamship owners. They allege that the seizure is nothing more than a pretense for the government to obtain marine transport without paying. The recent buildup of troops at several port locations is cited, along with the fact that they refuse to release the location at which the vessels were impounded.
If the OFHU finds the Warlords to be in violation of the International Maritime Shipping Agreement, it could levy heavy sanctions against them. Past penalties for ‘Seizure To Avoid Pay’ have included everything from requirements of monetary compensation, all the way up to outright blockade. The latter has only been employed once, after it was discovered that the Latin Junta paid mercenaries to sink a several ships carrying humanitarian aid to the remote Russian province of Koryak during the winter of 1936. That blockade lasted 3 months and the inability to move freight effectively froze Junta military advances.
The Warlords’ case is somewhat undermined by the claims from recently defected members of the military High Command that an operation targeting several islands in Southeast Asia and Oceania has been planned. Although the exact islands have yet to be revealed, it is known that six will be invaded, with the goal of capturing all in a rapid push. If the vessel seizure is related and the OFHU acts in line with past rulings, the AW will be required to return the vessels and pay a punitive fine.