How NIMASA’s inactions cost Nigerian Seafarers opportunities onboard foreign ships – Expert

A maritime expert has stated that the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has failed to secure employment opportunities on foreign ships for Nigerian seafarers ahead of their peers from other countries.

A leader and co-founder of the Maritime Officers Forum Nigeria, Mr. Jeremiah Emmanuel, revealed this to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Wednesday.

Emmanuel explained that for a seafarer to work onboard a foreign vessel, its flag must have an MoU with the seafarer’s country of origin.

He said the leading seafaring nations had prioritised having a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with top shipping nations.

He said NIMASA, in that aspect, had exhibited a lack of success in its diplomatic role to give Nigerian seafarers a level playing field in the community of maritime nations.

“In 2018, after our studies in Ghana, we realised that most of our colleagues, especially Cameroonian and Ghanaian seafarers, ended up getting employment opportunities onboard foreign ocean-going vessels.

But Nigerians ended up with opportunities within the nation’s territorial waters.”

“When we asked some of the foreign liners why they weren’t taking Nigerians, they complained about the Nigerian image in the international community, the absence of a MoU with the Nigerian maritime administration, and other complications in getting passports.

“The Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) has MoUs with over 30 shipping nations, and this gives Ghanaian seafarers an advantage.

“Ghana recently sealed an MoU with the UK, but they already had agreements with Malta and Singapore, among others.

Nigeria doesn’t have an MoU with these countries; therefore, they keep rejecting Nigerian seafarers onboard their vessels.” Emmanuel said.

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The seafarer, who is currently onboard an American vessel, also stressed that the Near Coastal Voyage (NCV) limitation should be scrapped from the Officers of the Watch (OOW) license issued by NIMASA, adding that it was not applicable anywhere in the world.

“We have been encouraging the government to follow the standards globally because OOW shouldn’t have a limitation.”

“The difference is that those with BSc/HND get exempted from educational courses and take only the professional courses, while those with ND/Rating watchkeeping undergo the professional and educational courses and exams,” he said.

Emmanuel also observed that poor remuneration, welfare, and unfair treatment of seafarers in Nigeria made foreign opportunities more appealing and rewarding to the professionals.

He alleged that following the influx of Nigerian seafarers into Ghana for training and unlimited OOW, Ghana recently started giving Nigerian seafarers NCV with the excuse that the vessels did not sail from one continent to another.

“We have started telling our members to stop going to Ghana for training. It costs a minimum of N15 million to get an OOW certificate in Ghana.

“We have told our members not to spend this much only to end up with a limitation in Ghana.”

“I think the maritime regulator in Ghana is trying to create STCWGH with this clause of sailing across intercontinental waters.

“They insist that 12 to 18 months of the year have to be outside Africa.

“What if your vessel is foreign, but during your sailing on that vessel, due to your ship itinerary, you only call in African ports? Will the seafarer tell the company that they should change the route?

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“I signed my insurance for my current company before commencing work. While working in Nigeria, I never saw my insurance papers, let alone signed them.”

“You can find a seafarer traveling from Port Harcourt to Lagos for an interview that can be done online.

“Salaries are also poor for seafarers working in Nigeria; meanwhile, the prices of the training, which are in dollars, keep increasing.

“The poor remuneration of Nigerian seafarers currently makes it difficult for them to renew their licenses via training that are priced in dollars globally,” he added.

Emmanuel lamented the absence of insurance packages for seafarers in Nigeria, noting that it was a top priority abroad. (NAN).

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