In commemorating this year’s Day of the Seafarers with the theme; “Seafarers Matter” the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside has assured the Seafarers that their welfare is critical to the growth of the sector, hence the agency will do all within its means to implement all International Maritime Organization (IMO) and International Labour Organization conventions regarding the welfare of the seafarers.
Speaking during the celebration of the ‘Day of the Seafarers’ in Onne, Rivers state, the DG said that the National Joint Industrial Council (NJIC) comprising of tripartite stakeholders, have reconvened to fashion out a decent wage and improved working and living conditions for the seafarers in line with the provisions of the convention and comparable to what is obtainable internationally.
“It is therefore expected that once the collective bargaining agreement is signed, ship-owners will commence its full implementation”, he stated.
The DG who further reiterated the agency’s commitment in engaging ship-owners and seafarer employers on the need to provide gainful employment to qualified Nigerian seafarers whom he said were very important, called on shipowners to give some level of preference to the seafarers especially in the Cabotage trade as against the practice of engaging foreign seafarers.
“As Nigerians and maritime operators we should be proud of our seafarers and also encourage them to develop their careers/competences like their foreign counterparts”, he said.
Meanwhile, the NIMASA DG also used the opportunity to inform stakeholders that the agency was leaving no stone unturned to ensure full implementation of the Cabotage Act for the benefit of Nigerians.
Accordingly he said, “Cabotage Act is undergoing review and it is the agency’s position that the review will take care of all the grey areas in the application, processing and granting of waiver to the extent it should be seen to give some level of advantage to Nigerian seafarers especially in the areas of employment and specialized training.”
While assuring the Seafarers of the agency’s continuous support, the DG stated that NIMASA would continue to give priority to capacity building initiatives in order to actualize its vision of making NIMASA a world class organization in line with global best practices.
This according to him had also led the agency to develop a multi-strategy approach to encouraging young school leavers to take a career at sea through the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP).
It may be recalled that the NSDP initiative of the agency which was conceived in 2008 in order to bridge the gap observed in the death of seafarers in the country has so far facilitated the training of 2,259 young Nigerians in various fields of maritime studies in reputable Maritime Institutions in the United Kingdom, Egypt, Romania, India and the Philippines.
Amongst this number, a total number of 943 cadets of the NSDP will soon be placed onboard ocean going vessels for their mandatory sea time, as facilitated by NIMASA with institutions in Egypt, United Kingdom and Turkey.
In March this year, the agency also facilitated the training of 428 seafarers on mandatory courses and other specific areas of specialization for career progression; these include STCW, Oil Tanker familiarization (OTF), Efficient Deck Hand (EDH), ISPS awareness training and specialized training on Dynamic Positioning (DP).
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has set aside 25th of June every year to commemorate seafarers worldwide.