By Ernest ChinwoÂ in Port Harcourt
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has said it had facilitated the training of 2,259 young Nigerians in various fields of maritime studies in reputable institutions around the world.
Â The agency also said the Cabotage Act was undergoing review by the National Assembly to take care of grey areas in the application, processing and granting of waivers in order to give advantage to Nigerian seafarers.Â
The Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, made the disclosure yesterday at the Oil and Gas Free Zone, Onne, Rivers State during the celebration of this yearâ€™s Day of the Seafarers with theme: Seafarers Matter.Â
He said the reputable maritime institutions where Nigerians were being trained were located in United Kingdom, Egypt, Romania, India and the Philippines.Â
Peterside also disclosed that the agency had concluded arrangements for the placement of 943 cadets of the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) on board vessels for their mandatory sea time.
He said the agency had also maintained consistency in its policy of training and retraining of seafarers for relevant skills acquisition and upgrade.
â€œThe purpose is to ensure that the country has adequate skilled manpower for the maritime industry, especially in meeting demands of the cabotage regime.Â
â€œIn this regard, the agency in March this year facilitated the training of 428 seafarers on mandatory courses and other specific areas of specialisation for career progression,â€ he said.
He listed as part of the sustainable efforts of NIMASA towards building the requisite capacity of the industry to include the establishment of the Maritime University at Okerenkoko, Delta State, and other institutes for maritime studies in six universities across the country.
He said the agency was also engaging ship-owners and seafarer employers on the need to provide gainful employment to qualified Nigerian seafarers.
â€œIn other words, it is important that our ship-owners should give some level of preference to our seafarers especially in the cabotage trade as against the practice of engaging foreign seafarers.
â€œAs Nigerians and maritime operators we should be proud of our seafarers and also encourage them to develop their careers/competencies like their foreign counterparts,â€ he said.
Buttressing the importance of seafarers in the society, Peterside said seafarers were not only important to the shipping companies but are â€œequally important to everyone on the planet because they transport all over the world those essential items, commodities and components which are so important to our daily livesâ€.