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‘Nigeria not ready to position seafarers for energy transition’

By Adaku Onyenucheya
14 December 2022   |   3:20 am
Industry, governments, unions and academia have been charged to meet the challenge of training seafarers for alternative fuels.

Industry, governments, unions and academia have been charged to meet the challenge of training seafarers for alternative fuels.

The charge is part of the recommendation of the Maritime Just Transition Task Force 10-point action plan for decarbonisation of shipping through to 2050 in new research, which it commissioned from DNV Maritime’s consultancy.

The action plan is aimed at ensuring seafarers at the frontline of decarbonisation were properly looked after and trained in shipping’s energy transition.

According to the research, about 800,000 seafarers serving global shipping will need upskilling to handle alternative fuels by mid-2030 to meet the industry’s decarbonisation ambitions.

Also, 750,000 seafarers would require additional training by 2050, while between 310,000 and 750,000 seafarers would require additional training by 2040.

The research called for strengthening global training standards, ensuring a health-and-safety-first approach and establishing advisory national maritime skills councils to train the desired number of seafarers.

Secretary General of the International Chamber of Shipping, Guy Platten, said there is an urgent need to establish the infrastructure and training required to prepare seafaring workforce, both in developed and developing countries, to help meet decarbonisation objectives.

He said this should be done as of today, so they are ready and able to meet the challenges that new green fuels and propulsion technologies would pose, as well as mitigate any potential health and safety risks for ships, communities, the environment and seafarers themselves.

But professionals in the industry said Nigeria is not ready to engage seafarers for shipping energy transition, as over 80 per cent are without jobs.

Secretary General, the Merchant Seafarers Association of Nigeria, Alfred Oniye, said Nigeria does not have plans for the future when it comes to the maritime industry and training of manpower.

He said over 80 per cent of trained Nigerian seafarers are jobless, adding that the country cannot fit into the seafarers shipping energy transition.
He challenged the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to publish the names of the 800 cadets of the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) the agency claimed it employed, as well as the vessel and company they work with for the public to see.

Oniye said the information about their employment was false and just to mislead the public, just as he claimed the cadets lack operational competency.

“I know the best NSDP graduates are roaming the streets without jobs. Or did NIMASA employ those who did not pass well? Nigeria cannot train more and is not ready for that,” he said.

A captain of one of the largest vessels that sail in Nigeria, Ogunsakin Williams, said Nigerian seafarers are almost not relevant in the country’s maritime industry, as many of them are without jobs.

“Nigeria is producing massive cadets who don’t have where to serve and work. Nigerian seafarers are ready, but the political will to do it is what we don’t have,” he said.

The President of the Maritime Professionals Forum (MARPRO), Capt. Akanbi Oluwasegun, said while the country awaits the recommendations on training requirements, various ships’ specific training and induction processes need to be intensified.

He said possible changes to the decarbonisation ambition would major on ships automation and regulatory compliance, adding that the syllabus and coverage of maritime courses need to be reviewed to reflect preparedness for the forthcoming innovation.