Stakeholders seek capacity development, equal employment for seafarers
Stakeholders in the maritime sector have called for a prioritised capacity development and equal employment opportunities for Nigerian seafarers just like their foreign counterparts.
They made the call at the commemoration of the World Maritime Day 2021 held yesterday, in Lagos, with the theme: “Seafarers: At The Core Of Shipping Future.”
The National President, Nigeria Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transport Senior Staff Association, Bob Yousou, harped on the need for Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to strengthen its enforcement of Cabotage Act, saying that so much still needs to be achieved in furtherance to better the lots of Nigerian seafarers.
He expressed worries over foreign dominance and disparity of indigenous seafarers despite trading in Nigerian waters with the same Certificate of Competence (CoC).
He said foreign dominance still persists in the nation’s coastal water, noting that issues of low and unpaid salaries by ship owners are some of the challenges faced by the seafarers.
Yousou lamented that the wide gap in salary structure of local and foreign seafarers despite doing the same job or duties, obtaining the same qualifications working aboard vessels is alarming.
He pointed out that the regulatory agencies of the government should beam its searchlight on striking a balance on how best to prioritise Indigenous seamen.
While lending his voice on the fishing sub-sector of the maritime sector, Yousou urged members of Nigeria Trawler Owners (NITOA) to improve on the welfare of sailors, while calling on the government to rectify convention 188F and other fishing conventions.
The Comptroller General of Customs, Col Hameed Ali (rtd), said trade can not take place without the maritime industry and indeed the maritime workers, especially the seafarers.
Ali, who was represented by Deputy Comptroller, Dera Nnadi, said without the international shipping of products that is expedited by the seafarers within the maritime industry, the world’s economy would not be able to function.
He said the last three years have been a challenging one in which maritime workers, especially seafarers have faced a number of safety issues caused by water channel insecurities worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic and other environmental issues.
Ali, however, called on all stakeholders to double their efforts to reduce the vessel turnaround time for Nigeria and to further reduce the waiting time for goods to reach the trader’s warehouses from all frontiers.
The Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh assured that the agency will continue to pay priority attention to capacity development and employment of Nigerian seafarers
He said the agency will keep ensuring seafarers get fair treatment by ship-owners and employers through the implementation of approved conditions of service and collective bargaining agreements.