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Seafarers face untold hardship despite huge contributions to world economy

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Seafarers. Photo: BULK

Stakeholders in the maritime industry have decried the harsh conditions Nigerian and foreign seafarers undergo on the sea.

The Diocese of Lagos, Anglican Communion urged stakeholders in the maritime sector and other well-meaning Nigerians to support activities of the Mission to Seafarers in order to encourage seamen to meet international standard.

This was disclosed at this year’s Sea Sunday held at the Cathedral Church of Christ, Marina, Lagos, in collaboration with The Mission To Seafarers (MTS), with the theme: “Maritime Industry and Development of Nigeria- Connecting With Our Heritage.”

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Lamenting the poor condition of seafarers, the chief host, Humphrey Olumakaiye, noted that seafarers were faced with untold hardship day and night and were always at the mercy of pirates.

He said the seafarers were held incommunicado with their loved ones, as well as faced with unfair employment and unfavourable treatment from state and non-state actors and imprisonment at foreign ports.

Olumakaiye said Nigeria is doldrums because of the abandoned rich heritages, particularly the sea and all the positive activities of the seafarers who daily risk their lives to bring comfort and stability to the world.

Olumakaiye pointed that without seafarers, the world’s economy would be in shambles, adding that the comfort citizens are experiencing today is as a result of their contributions.

Chairman, Mission to Seafarers, Adebayo Sarumi, expressed concerned over the nature of the seafaring profession, pointing that seamen work under extremely difficult situations.

Sarumi stated that the Lagos port is very important to the world, as no fewer than 8, 000 ships visit the port yearly, with no fewer than 30 seafarers onboard foreign vessels that sail into the Lagos ports, hence the need to support sailors.

“The job of the seafarers is hard. In the past the threat was just the bad weather, sickness, then came the issue of piracy, home sickness, loneliness, lack of communication with loved ones and sending money home. Some of them have been unfairly imprisoned for months without any legal representation due to some kind of contractual issues,” he said.

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Chairman of Seaport Terminal Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Dr Vicky Haastrup, said seafarers contribute to the global economy, particularly in ensuring trade facilitation between Nigeria and other countries of the world.

Haastrup, who is also the Executive Vice Chairman, ENL Consortium Limited, added that while seafarers were essential workers for international trade to thrive, terminal operators had a key role to play in assisting their operations globally.

She, however, commended the Mission to Seafarers for playing a vital role in supporting seamen get the necessary treatment they desire, just as she called on all maritime stakeholders to support the operations of seafarers.

She also assured that terminal operators would continue to support seafarers in their operations.

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