Maritime: Stakeholders Point the Way Forward

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Stakeholders in the maritime industry have articulated the ways and means that will move the industry forward for the benefit of the citizenry.

They called for improved relations between the legislature and the executive arms of government so that they will be on the same page on the issues that will take the industry to the next level.

In this vein, they called for all pending proposed maritime legislations to be promptly forwarded to the National Assembly for requisite parliamentary action.

They also stress the need for more beneficial synergy between agencies and parastatals under the Federal Ministry of Transportation.

According to them, there is a need for a commitment to National Maritime Technical Development Strategy by setting up a committee to address the issues militating against the technical development of the maritime sector. This committee will come out with implementable solution and identify time frames and milestones. The stakeholders positions were part of the communique issued at the end of a three days retreat in the Akwa Ibom State capital, Uyo.

The retreat with the theme “Maritime Safety       Administration: the Legislative Perspective”           was organised by the House of Representatives Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Transportation.

No fewer than 12 papers were presented and discussed by    panellists and participants.

The communique called for the disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) for the provision of ships for Nigeria ship owners.

“It is imperative to review the issue of granting of waivers under the Cabotage Act 2003, by an amendment of the Act, to ensure active participation of Nigerians. There is a need to restore on board security and Tally Clerks at our seaports and resuscitate seafarers/docks workers pooling system. The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) should enforce compliance of maritime labour laws to allow stevedoring and dockworkers perform their statutory functions in the jetties, on and offshore, inland container depots (ICDs), terminals, bonded warehouses, and oil platforms.

“NIMASA and other bodies with duties for regulating maritime labour should address the neglect of dock labour employers (stevedoring companies) particularly as concerns the area of the standardization of employers’ contract. Training and re-training of seafarers and general capacity building in the maritime industry would be placed on the front burner. Cadet training should be on a globally competitive level to enable our seamen qualify for employment in international vessels”, the communique said.

Signed by the House of Representatives Committee on Maritime    Safety, Education and Administration, Hon. Mohammed Umaru Bago; Registrar of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron, Mr. Mkpandiok Ante Mkpandiok; the Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside; and the Director of Maritime Safety in the FFederal Ministry of Transportation, Mr. Dauda Danjuma, the communique also called on NIMASA and MAN, Oron to collaborate to secure STCW required sea time for Nigerian Merchant Navy cadets as a matter of urgency.

 According to the communique, the enabling Act of MAN, Oron should be amended to include NIMASA representative on the Governing Council of the academy and vice versa. MAN is urged to decentralize, in line with their enabling law, and set up campuses and study centres around the country in order to attract patronage of diverse students and lecturers alike.

“The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) should consider exempting Maritime Academy of Nigeria Cadets from service as they are paramilitary graduates. As in the case of the Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA), MAN should opt out of the Joint Administration and Matriculation Board (JAMB).There is need to make our inland waterways safer and more secure for maritime navigation and for optimal use.

“There must be a deliberate government effort for huge funding of the inland waterways sector. In promotion of inter-modalism, the on-going railway projects across the country should terminate at both inland and coastal ports. Alternative dispute resolution should be encouraged in the maritime sector for resolving industry disputes”, the communique added.