2021 World Maritime Day: Nigeria Committed To Seafarers’ Development
As the globe celebrated the 2021 World Maritime Day (WMD), the Federal Government of Nigeria has reiterated commitment to training and developing seafarers capable of operating technologically advanced vessels as well as prioritizing seafarers’ welfare.
The Minister of Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi gave this assurance while speaking at the WMD celebration organized in Lagos yesterday, assuring that the government would address the non-availability of seatime and other issues affecting seafarers in the country.
His words: “The Federal Government is committed to ensuring that cadets undergo adequate sea time training. The National Seafarers Development Program (NSDP) sponsored by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) will be strengthened to intensify engagement with reputable shipping companies to achieve even higher output. At the moment, there are over 7,000 Seafarers are on the Nigerian Seafarers Register and we are committed to achieving more.”
Noting that the world is presently in short supply of professionally qualified seafarers, the Minister equally observed that the rapid rise in digital technology and automation means that one of the world’s oldest professions is set to change more in the next couple of years.
“With evolving technology, the seafarer of the future will likely be working in a much smaller crew, complex individual task and have greater interaction and engagement with the global trading environment. Seafarers have over time remained an essential part of the global sustainability chain. Nigeria will continue to play its part in maintaining the value chain through partnership with organisations that sustain and support the seafarers,” Amaechi said.
In view of the emerging realities, he stressed that more attention should be given to seafarers’ specialized training to be capable of performing expert tasks in their various fields of engagement on board vessels.
He, however, stated that the Ministry is concerned about the Seafarer Workforce Report which warns that there could be a shortfall in officers by the year 2026 and argued that to bridge the resource gap in seafaring, there is the need to actively promote careers at sea, enhanced maritime education and training to enhance the diverse skills needed for a greener and more digitally connected maritime industry.
Also speaking at the conference, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Marine Transport, Senator Mohammed Danjuma Goje, assured that the legislature, especially the 9th National Assembly, will continue to support government policies and programmes that will promote the growth and development of the Nigerian maritime sector.
“We are ever-ready and committed to providing the required legislation at all times. The nature of seafarers work is unique and requires tremendous commitment and sacrifice. It’s one of the toughest jobs in the world that entails operating onboard of ships that sail across various territories and seas. Without Seafarers, Maritime Transportation will come to a standstill. Seafarers are the most critical stakeholders in the maritime domain and their efforts must be recognized and appreciated at all times,” he said.
He described the theme for the 2021 Maritime Day Celebration: “Seafarers: At The Core Of Shipping Future,” as apt because it provides an avenue for extensive discussion on the roles, importance and contributions of seafarers to the global maritime industry as well as identifying solutions to some of the challenges they face in relation to their work environment.
In his remarks, the Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh stated that the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic confirmed the fact that seafarers are the true champions of humanity, even as he recalled that during last year’s Day of the Seafarer, he described seafarers as, “The Invisible Heroes.”
“Following the pandemic shutdown and lock-downs across the whole world, only the seafarers remained in service delivering critical life essentials from foods to drugs to vital equipment and replenishing our supplies. What would the world be without seafarers? They have always been the heart of shipping and in my view, seafarers will no doubt continue to remain at the core of shipping from past to present to future,” he said.
On the efforts of the agency in securing the nation’s maritime domain, he highlighted the Deep Blue Project and the SPOMO Act, adding that they are yielding results with the recently released IMB report for the 2nd Quarter of 2021 showing a drastic decline in incidences of attacks on our waters and in the Gulf of Guinea. Seafarers can do their jobs without fear of being attacked or kidnapped.
“The recent official flag-off of the National wrecks removal exercise with the first phase along Badagry creeks from Tin-can Island to Navy town, is geared towards making our waterways safe and navigable for seafarers and vessels. Our role as a regulatory agency is to ensure that Nigerian Seafarers are treated fairly by the Ship-owners and employers through the implementation of approved conditions of service and agreed-on collective bargaining agreements. We shall continue to pay priority attention to the capacity development and employment of seafarers,” he assured.
He noted that the Agency has also initiated the Seafarers Identity Document (SID) registration portal, and other e-platforms for dockworkers, and their employers to ease the verification and registration process in line with international best practices while stakeholders have already been sensitized for its smooth take off.
On his part, the Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Col. Hammed Ibrahim Ali (Rtd) commended the Minister of Transportation, and the entire shipping stakeholders in the country on the occasion of the 2021 WMD.
The Customs boss observed that the global maritime day celebration is significant to the Service as it recognizes that trade is synonymous with Customs and trade can not take place without the maritime industry that has seafarers at the core of its operations.
Ali, who was represented by Deputy Controller, Administration at the Ogun I Area Command, DC Dera Nnadi reiterated that without the international shipping of products expedited by seafarers in the maritime industry, the world’s economy would not be able to function.
He, however, urged industry stakeholders to double their efforts in a bid to reduce the vessel turnaround time for Nigeria and also shorten the waiting time for goods to reach the traders warehouses from all frontiers.
“On our part as NCS, we pledge our unalloyed support to all maritime stakeholders to achieve these and our other desired individual and collective objectives,” he added.