By Kenneth Jukpor
As part of efforts to demonstrate gratitude to seafarers for their valuable contribution to global trade, The Mission to Seafarers, Lagos has promised to improve the Seafarers Centre in Apapa, Lagos.
The Chairman of the Management Committee, MTS Lagos, Chief Adebayo Sarumi stated this during the 2021 Annual Sea Sunday service which held at the Cathedral Church of Christ, Marina, Lagos, yesterday.
Sarumi, at the event themed; “Maritime Industry and Development of Nigeria – Connecting with Our Heritage”, noted that there is a need for a vibrant centre equipped with modern facilities.
According to him, legal representation, health care facilities and other equipment to make the centre homely and fascinating should be provided at the centre.
“Let us make seafarers that come to our shores know that the work they put in, is well appreciated. Let’s make our shores a place they long to come to because of the comfort and hospitality we provide. MTS cares for all seafarers irrespective of religion, nation or gender,” he said.
Sarumi, however, lamented that 25 percent of global seafarers suffer depression as a result of the hassles of the profession while 15 percent later commit suicide.
Also speaking at the summit, the Chairperson, Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Dr. Princess Vicky Haastrup described MTS as an important initiative to support seafarers who leave their families for months to be at sea.
Her words: “Seafarers contribute significantly to the stability of global economy because import and export would be impossible without them. For a country like Nigeria that is an import-laden nation, even in the export of crude oil, seafarers are responsible for this trade. They risk their lives as seafarers and it is a good thing to celebrate and support them via MTS.”
Haastrup, who is also the Executive Vice Chairman, ENL Consortium, expressed optimism that the support and care by MTS would go a long way to curb the incidents of suicides and other negative vices from depression among seafarers.
On his part, the Assistant Chaplain of MTS Lagos and 2nd Vice President of the Association of Marine Engineers and Surveyors (AMES), Engr. Emmanuel Ilori noted that Nigeria’s bid to get better responses from ship captains and seafarers could be boosted by the MTS efforts to prioritize the welfare of seafarers.
“The church is a large community of people and this event is being celebrated globally. The Cathedral Church of Lagos hosting the Sea Sunday shows the importance we attach to seafarers. They don’t only need prayers, but also support. Seafarers aren’t adequately recognized. They are the unsung heroes because everyone seems to forget that without seafarers we wouldn’t have food, clothes, cars, etc.”
“Recently, we have been talking about the need to stop the Extra War Risk Insurance in Nigeria and the focus has been on security. If the seafarers who come to Nigeria go back to say they had a good experience in the country, that would start to change the global perception about the country. Don’t forget that this issue of security is shaped by the experiences of seafarers,” Ilori said.
Earlier, in the sermon, The Very Reverend Adebola Ojofeitimi, thanked the MTS Chairman, Chaplain and MTS members for bringing back this abandoned heritage of caring for seafarers.
He opined that this approach of caring for seafarers can make the country and the shipping industry better.
“God is always awake and at work and this brings me to the mission of God to the world. This mission is to make the world comfortable for the living to survive. He is the one who drives us, keeps us and blesses us with the wherewithal to approach our daily activities.”
“The activities of seafarers who toil day and night to bring comfort to the world, without seafarers the world economy would be in shambles,” he said.
Some of the maritime bigwigs at the event were; President of African Women in Maritime (WIMAFRICA), Mrs. Jean-Chiazor Anishere (SAN), President, Nigerian Association of Master Mariners (NAMM), Capt. Tajudeen Alao, Co-Champion for Transportation Sector, National Action Committee, AfCFTA, Mrs. Funmi Folorunsho.
Maritime Security Consultant, Rear Admiral Godwill Ombo (Rtd), CEO, Zoe Maritime Resources, Mrs. Oritematosan Edodo-Emore, Former General Manager at Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mrs. Carol Ufere, among others, also graced the occasion.