The Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside has assured seafarers in the country that their welfare is critical to the growth of the sector, hence the agency will do all within its means to implement all International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions regarding the welfare of the seafarers.
Speaking during the celebration of the â€˜Day of the Seafarersâ€™ in Onne, Rivers state, Peterside said that the National Joint Industrial Council (NJIC) comprising tripartite stakeholders, reconvened to fashion out a decent wage and improved working and living conditions for the seafarers in line with the provisions of the convention and comparable to what is obtainable internationally.
â€œIt is therefore expected that once the collective bargaining agreement is signed, shipowners will commence its full implementation, â€he stated.
The NIMASA boss, who reiterated the agencyâ€™s commitment to engaging ship-owners and seafarer employers on the need to provide gainful employment to qualified Nigerian seafarers whom he said are very important, called on shipowners to give some level of preference to the 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/competences like their foreign counterparts, “he said.
He also used the opportunity to inform stakeholders that the agency will leave no stone unturned to ensure full implementation of the Cabotage Act for the benefit of Nigerians.
â€œThe Cabotage Act is undergoing review and it is the Agencyâ€™s position that the review will take care of all the grey areas in the application, processing and granting of waiver to the extent it should be seen to give some level of advantage to Nigerian seafarers especially in the areas of employment and specialised training, â€ he said.
While assuring the seafarers of the agencyâ€™s continuous support, the DG stated that NIMASA will continue to give priority to capacity building initiatives in order to actualise its vision of making NIMASA a world class organisation in line with global best practices.
This, according to him, has also led the Agency to develop a multi-strategy approach to encouraging young school leavers to take a career at sea through the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP).
He said the NSDP initiative of the agency which was conceived in 2008 in order to bridge the gap observed in the death of seafarers in the country has so far facilitated the training of 2,259 young Nigerians in various fields of maritime studies in reputable Maritime Institutions in the United Kingdom, Egypt, Romania, India and the Philippines.
â€œAmongst this number, a total number of 943 cadets of the NSDP will soon be placed onboard ocean going vessels for their mandatory sea time, as facilitated by NIMASA with institutions in Egypt, United Kingdom and Turkey. In March this year, the Agency also facilitated the training of 428 Seafarers on mandatory courses and other specific areas of specialisation for career progression. These include STCW, Oil Tanker familiarisation (OTF), Efficient Deck Hand (EDH), ISPS awareness training and specialised training on Dynamic Positioning (DP), â€œhe added.