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Nigerians celebrate seafarers, seek improved welfare

By Sulaimon Salau and Adaku Onyenucheya
30 June 2021   |   3:00 am
Stakeholders in the country’s maritime sector have called for new ways of ensuring the improved welfare of seafarers.

Seafarers. Photo: BULK

Stakeholders in the country’s maritime sector have called for new ways of ensuring the improved welfare of seafarers.

The stakeholders, in their various massages celebrating the Seafarers’ Day, described them as heroes, who have kept the nation’s economy going notwithstanding the seaborne challenges.

The Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, challenged ship-owners and other stakeholders in the Nigerian maritime industry to devise creative means of improving seafarers welfare.

Amaechi, in his address at the 2021 Day of the Seafarer, with the theme, “Fair Future for Seafarers”, extolled the virtue of seafarers in Nigeria and the world over for their enormous contributions to global commerce and economy, generally.

He said: “Seafarers contend with perils of the seas, and sometimes, put their lives on the line just to ensure that goods are safely delivered at designated ports. This is one of the reasons we celebrate the seafarers every year.”

He highlighted the harrowing experiences seafarers endured in the course of their job, especially at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic last year.

“I am, however, glad to inform you that Nigeria, as a member state of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), was one of the first countries to declare seafarers essential workers to ease their sufferings,” the minister stated.

He added, “The nation, through the Federal Ministry of Transportation and its agencies, will continue to ensure that government’s policies are tailored towards improving the welfare and working conditions of the seafarers in line with international standard and statutory conventions.”

The Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh, who also appreciated the seafarers, urged the shipping companies to suspend war risk insurance on Nigerian-bound cargoes, saying this will be a disservice to Nigeria and investors in the country’s maritime environment.

Meanwhile, the Continental President, Women in Shipping Africa (WIMAFRICA), Jean Chiazor Anishere, has urged maritime nations to appreciate the significant role seafarers’ play in the industry, which makes them the very heart of international trade.

Anishere, who made the call during zoom discussion in commemorating the Seafarers Day 2021, called for a need to continue supporting seafarers especially on pandemic-related challenges, which drew global attention to other areas where fairness was important.

She said that the importance of seafarers in daily lives, cannot be overemphasised, adding that Seafarers are responsible for the gradual restoration to normalcy, international trade and business across the world.

She said that all the useful items for daily human activities were primarily transported by sea with the help of seafarers.

“The ongoing Convid-19 pandemic has created challenging working conditions for seafarers including difficulties with the port access repatriation crew changes and more.

“Unfortunately, there are still many Seafarers that have not been able to leave ships for an extended time beyond their contract.

“Despite these challenges facing the Seafarers, they have gone beyond the call of duties working tirelessly to keep global trade flowing.

“Seafarers also play a significant role in the maritime industry, which makes them the heart of International and Global trade,” Anishere said.

She said that 80 per cent of the global trade occurring by maritime transportation, the work of seafarers had impacted on the Global economy, crossing territorial borders and touching the lives of everyone.

June 25 every year is designated as the Day of the Seafarer by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to celebrate seafarers and their contributions to human progress.

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