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40 years after, Nigeria rekindles hope for seafarers with new ‘mission’

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Barely 40 years after the Mission to Seafarers (MTS) went into extinction in Nigeria, stakeholders in the maritime sector have mobilised mercenaries to revive the lost glory of the seamen.

Even as the campaign for improved welfare of the seafarers hit the front burner, a new facility has been acquired and currently under reconstruction in Lagos to host the seafarers and fill their leisure time.

Major industry stakeholders, state governors and international actors, who gathered at Mission to Seafarers (MTS)Symposium held in Lagos, said there was a need to lift the standard of living of seamen, considering their immense contribution to the global economy.

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Chairman, Mission To Seafarers, Chief Adebayo Sarumi, said the seafarers face a lot of challenges on the sea, noting that they are very important to global trade and therefore deserve better treatment.

He said: “During the COVID-19 Pandemic where everywhere was on lockdown, the seafarers were there for us, even the airports were shut, but the seafarers kept working to ensure adequate supply of essential materials and keep the world economy going.”

Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said there was an urgent need for the government to address the challenges of developing a virile maritime sector that will boost socioeconomic growth and development for the benefit of the people and regional integration of landlocked countries.

Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by the Commissioner of Transportation, Fredrick Oladehinde, said the maritime industry is a veritable wealth generation and job creation platform which has continued to benefit many people including seafarers, merchant vessel operators, ship chandlers, import and export cargo brokers among many other available and emerging opportunities.

He said his government has developed initiatives that would ensure the provision of adequate infrastructure and services to enhance maritime trade and transport in Lagos State.

Chairman of the event and Governor, Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, said for the maritime industry to thrive, there was need for governments at all levels to simplify the bottlenecks that created challenges.

Akeredolu, who was represented by the Secretary to the state government, Mrs Oladuni Odu, said: “We must canvas for development of the maritime industry at every forum. We must confront the challenges that the seafarers are facing,”

He said tourism is now contributing significantly to the economies of many countries worldwide, urging Nigeria to tap into the inherent opportunities that the water resources present.

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Secretary-General, Mission To Seafarers Worldwide, Andrew Wright, applauded Nigeria’s move seeking better welfare for seafarers.

He said: “Seafarers drive world trade. They control the global economic development, without them, everything will fall apart. If the seafarers were to down tools for a day, you can just imagine what the consequences will be.”

The Indian High Commissioner, represented by the Head of Chancery, Rachit Rawat, said the Mission To Seafarers is a good development, especially as it would aid the deep blue agenda.

He said Nigeria and India have robust trade relationships adding that more partnership should exist in the maritime sector.
Rawat said both countries have a lot to exchange in a bid to realise potentials of the blue economy.

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