DG, NIMASA, Patrick Apobolokemi
By Francis Ugwoke
Members of the Seamen of the Maritime Workers Union of Nig eria (MWUN) are bitter with the management of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) over welfare issues.
A source told THISDAY that members of the union are planning a protest in three places, Port Harcourt, Lagos and Warri to drive
home their grievances over allegations of maltreatment and deprivation by the regulatory agency.
Under the new NIMASA Act, it is the statutory responsibility of the agency to organise seafarers, providing training programmes, welfare
and organise the seafarers’ pooling system.
The union members are accusing the management of NIMASA of embarking on programmes that have ended up making seamen lose their jobs.
The union alleged that NIMASA has turned itself into a manning agent, and has been directly involved in providing crew to vessels, a
development the seafarers said has rendered them redundant. According to the seafarers, the Seafarers Pool, which is where the
crew should be recruited has been abandoned. They accused the regulatory agency of patronising private pools which have links with
The union said that following the abandonment of the seafarers’ pool by NIMASA, thousands of seamen have been without jobs.
Members of the union had in Warri during the Seafarers Day celebration recently accused NIMASA management of failing in their statutory
responsibility towards seamen.
The Deputy President- General of the Union, Henry Odey, and the Warri District Chairman of the union, Seamen Branch, Goodlife Okoro, had during the event maintained that NIMASA had no statutory right to crew vessels, explaining that all it was expected to do is to send such requests to the seafarers’ pools through the Maritime Workers’ Union.
The two union leaders said, ‘’their statutory responsibility was to register shipping agents and regulate their operations while they
leave crewing to the union. But unfortunately, they have hijacked this role’’
It was gathered that the union is planning to mobilise as many seafarers as possible to protest against NIMASA in Lagos, Warri and
Port Harcourt as soon as possible.
The protest, it was gathered, is expected to compel the management of NIMASA to put an end to the issue of patronising private seafarers’
pools and rely only on the ones run by the union.
The union also claimed that members had not benefited from any welfare package since the present management of NIMASA came on board.
However, the Director-General of NIMASA, Patrick Apobolokemi, had during the Seafarers’ Day in Warri promised to review the efforts of
the agency to “develop and empower Nigerian seamen such as the National Seafarers Development Program (NSDDP)”.
Apobolokemi, also said NIMASA is planning to introduce an electronic pooling project in order to get “Nigerian seafarers registered,
verified, placed onboard and developed anywhere in the world in line with global best practices”.
The D-G disclosed that the process had been completed and would soon be made available to all seafarers.