The Maritime industry is a vast and interconnecting industry that one aspect is inter- dependent on the other, for instance there is no importation/exportation without shipment, shipment cannot happen without ships and ships cannot sail without SEAFARERS.
It is of great essence that any country that is willing and ready to take full advantage of this industry must make serious consideration and ensure harmony amongst these key components.
It is estimated that Philippines would receive not less than six billion US DOLLARS(USD 6 billion) as remittance from their seafarers by the end of 2018.
This goes to show the huge employment opportunity and revenue our nation is missing out yearly owing to the neglect to train and equip our seafarers to be qualified to man ships locally and internationally.
Hence there’s an urgent need to address the seatime issue of NIMASA NSDP cadets who are just SEATIME-COC away from becoming competent seafarers.
Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) , Employment Clinic, Temisan Omatseye- former NIMASA DG and other key players in the industry have identified the importance of NIMASA-NSDP.
Thus they have presented various possible solutions to the much talked about DELAYED SEATIME PLACEMENT FOR NIMASA-NSDP CADETS who have been at home for the past three (3) years without seatime/COC.
On 28th September, 2018 about 48 cadets under the NIMASA sponsored Nigerian Seafarers Development Program (NSDP) embarked on a peaceful protest at NIMASA head office in Lagos to demand for the long awaited seatime/COC.
It was noted that the Director General(DG) Of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, stated clearly while addressing the protesting cadets that “money is not the problem” and that “Seatime is our right”.
We stand to appreciate the DG for assuring us that seatime is our right and the agency will do everything within its capacity to make sure that all NIMASA-NSDP cadets who have graduated are placed onboard ocean going vessels for their seatime, which will qualify them to obtain their certificate of competency(COC).
The DG equally promised that not less than 200 cadets would be sent for their seatime training before the end of March 2019.
We also receive with joy the response by the DG that there are shipping companies willing to concurrently train 10,20,30 or even up to 50 cadets and we pray the agency to look into this wonderful offer inorder to reduce the number of cadets waiting endlessly for seatime.
The purpose of this letter is to express our dissatisfaction with the seeming resolve of the agency to wait for the institution in Egypt or other institutions that can provide berthing space for up to 200 cadets at a time which will definitely result to a huge number of cadets spending more years waiting for their turn to embark on the mandatory seatime.
This decision is not in the best interest of over 1500 NIMASA-NSDP cadets who have been waiting for seatime/COC, as the delay is detrimental to our professional productive age to grow and remain in the career to the point where the goal of NSDP is achieved.
It is highly frustrating for NIMASA-NSDP cadets who graduated from institutions in the Philippines because unlike their colleagues from UK and Romania, they can not obtain their B.Sc degree without the mandatory seatime because of the maritime education system of their country of study.
Therefore we plead with the management of NIMASA, as a matter of urgency, to :
1. Embrace other reputable options which have been presented to the agency by the various maritime experts such as SOAN, Employment Clinic, Temisan Omatseye – former NIMASA DG and other shipping companies willing to train the cadets in order to address the endless delay in seatime training of NIMASA-NSDP cadets.
2.Put in place measures to guarantee immediate transition from seatime to obtaining internationally accepted COC without delays, so we can compete favorably with our foreign counterparts .
3.Put in place appropriate arrangements for the cadets who graduated from the Philippines to obtain their B.Sc degree certificates upon completion of the mandatory seatime training.
We implore the Agency to make true its promise to send not less than 200 cadets for their seatime before the end of March 2019.
It is worthy of note that in the past 3 years, the agency has made several unfulfilled promises of this nature. Our career has been put on a standstill by the agency. Some of our maritime professional certificates are now near expiry even without using them. Our hopes are dimming!
There is an urgent need to embrace any/all option(s) that would take away our frustrations and give us the career we have always longed for.
As the theme of the programme says “GO-TO-SEA” NIMASA-NSDP cadets are determined to “GO-TO-SEA”.
It is with our last gleam of hope that we write this open letter to all and sundry as we beckon: