The Alumni of Maritime Academy of Nigeria Oron (AMANO) has called on the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to rise up to the challenges facing seafarers in Nigeria especially the difficulties in processing their identification documents and the restriction on the Nigerian issued Certificate of Competency (CoC).
The CoC is a form of license every mariner is granted to work on ships. The certificate ensures that the concerned person has the sufficient knowledge and skills to sail on ocean-going vessels.
Presently, Nigerian seafarers are restricted to work within the nation’s territorial waters as a result of the limitation of the COC issued by NIMASA while their counterparts in Ghana, Singapore, Australia among others are leveraging their licenses to work globally.
Speaking at the 2022 stakeholders’ forum organised by AMANO in Lagos on Thursday, President of the association, Mr. Emmanuel Maigawa said to enable employment of Nigerian seafarers on non-Nigerian flag vessels, there is need for NIMASA to establish bilateral relationships with other maritime nations.
Maiguwa, also lamented the inability of the country to provide career progression for seafarers while welfare of seafarers as enshrined in MSC 2006 are poorly implemented.
“The difficulties in processing our seafarer’s identification documents, license procedures and limitations of our seafarers’ license, the welfare of seafarers as enshrined in MSC 2006, career development progression, availability of platforms are some of the challenges that prompted the stakeholders’ forum.
“A situation where a country is not able to certify her own seafarers; a situation where a country is not able to provide career progression for her seafarers where officers are not able to get to the next round for over 10 years. When such happens, the seafarer looks for an alternative like obtaining licenses in the United Kingdom. This often comes with a temptation for the seafarers to relocate with their family. His intention may not be to relocate his family but because he needs a career progression, he relocates” he said.
Maiguwa who is also the President of Maritime Security Providers Association of Nigeria (MASPAN) said seafaring in Nigeria should be seen from the aspect of national development where local seafarers are developed to support the national fleet.
He added that while seafaring plays a role in national security with local seafarers complementing local territorial integrity, a country which doesn’t have adequate and competent seafarers shouldn’t be talking about the national fleet.
According to him, “A situation where you have an insecure environment with so many ships trading with foreigners means you will have leakages of information that are vital to the country where the businesses exist, but you don’t have sufficient seafarers. So, there would be a leakage of information which makes it difficult for the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigerian Navy to properly protect our territorial integrity.
“Although we do not plan for conflict but in such times where merchant ships are needed to support, you can imagine your fleet manned by foreigners.”