By Chiazo Ogbolu
The Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, on Thursday said that more attention should be given to seafarers’ specialised training to make them capable of performing expert tasks.
The minister said in Lagos that the National Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) would be strengthened to intensify engagement with reputable shipping companies.
Amaechi gave the assurance at the 2021 World Maritime Day celebration.
The event was organised by the Federal Ministry of Transportation.
It had the theme, “Seafarers at the Core of Shipping’s Future”.
Amaechi, who noted that NSDP was sponsored by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), said that there were more than 7,000 seafarers on the Nigerian Seafarers Register.
According to him, the Federal Government is committed to ensuring that cadets undergo adequate seatime training.
“In view of emerging realities, more attention should be given to seafarers’ specialised training to make them capable of performing expert tasks in their various fields of engagement on board vessels.
“Notably, seafaring has evolved over the years from apprenticeship to specialised and rigorous nautical education necessitated by digitisation and development of modern, technologically-advanced vessels.
“The world is in short supply of qualified seafarers today, and the rapid rise in digital technology and automation means that one of the world’s oldest professions is set to change more in the next couple of years than ever before,” he said.
He added that with evolving technology, seafarer might be working in a much smaller crew, carry out complex individual task and have greater interaction and engagement with the global trading environment.
“We will continue to pursue policies and programmes that will make the maritime industry attractive to local and foreign investors and sustain the implementation of International Maritime Organisation instruments to ensure the safety, wellbeing and empowerment of seafarers,” he said.
Dr Bashir Jamoh, Director-General of NIMASA, gave the assurance that seafarers would continue to remain at the core of policies on shipping matters.
He noted that NIMASA’s role as a regulatory agency was to ensure that Nigerian seafarers would be treated fairly by shipowners and employers through the implementation of approved conditions of service and collective bargaining agreements.
“We shall continue to give priority attention to capacity development and employment of seafarers.
“The agency has initiated the Seafarers Identity Document registration portal and other e-platforms for dockworkers and their employers to ease verification and registration processes in line with international best practices,” he added.
Jamoh said that the theme of the 2021 World Maritime Day touched on issues relating to the human element of shipping such as safety and security of life on board ships and seafarers’ well-being.
He said that there was the need to ensure an appropriately trained and qualified workforce ready to meet the challenges and utilise the opportunities of digitalisation and automation.
“On this special occasion, therefore, we have every reason to celebrate seafarers for their contributions to Nigeria’s economy and because they make life more meaningful to the individual citizens by playing a significant role in the delivery of essentials for our collective survival,” he said.
Mr Mohammed Bello-Koko, Acting Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority, said that sea transport was fundamental to boosting the economy, adding that seafarers were highly-treasured.
“A day to celebrate seafarers show that we are moving forward and interested in the welfare of seafarers.
“It is important to understand that movement of goods across the world is done through the sea, at least 90 per cent of it.
“Seafarers play a key role to economic development of the country. Issues have been identified and most of them have to do with their welfare, allowance, insurance; solutions should be proffered.
“Everyone has a role to play, be it NIMASA, NPA, other agencies or shipping companies; they should ensure that seafarers are taken care of,” he said.
The Comptroller-General, Nigeria Customs Service, retired Col. Hammed Ali, said that without the international shipping of products expedited by seafarers and others within the maritime industry, the world’s economy would not be able to function.
Earlier, Dr Magdalene Ajani, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, said that shipping was an efficient mode of transportation facilitated by the efforts of seafarers.
She said that without seafarers’ efforts, the world’s economy would not function appropriately.
“The theme – “Seafarers at the Core of Shipping Future” – seeks to increase the visibility of seafarers by drawing attention to the invaluable roles they play now and will continue to play and the reason they are the focus today. (NAN)