April 16, 2024

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Nigerian seafarers blame NIMASA for inability to secure jobs on foreign ships

Nigerian seafarers have blamed the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) for their struggles in securing employment opportunities on foreign ships ahead of their peers from other countries.

While leading seafaring nations have prioritized having Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with top shipping nations, the seafarers said NIMASA’s failure to establish effective partnership and agreement with other maritime nations has hampered their inability to secure jobs on foreign vessels.

Speaking on Live Conversations with Maritime TV Africa, on Monday, a Leader and Co-Founder of Maritime Officers Forum Nigeria, Mr. Emmanuel Jeremiah, explained that for a seafarer to work onboard a foreign vessel, that flag must have an MoU with the seafarer’s country of origin.

His words: “In 2018, after our studies in Ghana, we realized that most of our colleagues especially Cameroonian and Ghanaian seafarers ended up getting employment opportunities onboard foreign ocean-going vessels. Nigerians, however, 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 MoU with the Nigerian maritime administration and other complications getting passports.”

He, however, pointed out that Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) has MoUs with over 30 shipping nations, adding that this gives Ghanaian seafarers an advantage.

“Ghana recently sealed an MoU with UK, but they already had agreement Malta, Singapore, among others. despite being the giant of Africa and receiving vessels from top shipping nations, Nigeria doesn’t have an MoU with these countries, therefore, they keep rejecting Nigerian seafarers onboard their vessels. Nigeria can equally reach an MoU with Maersk Line, PIL, to prioritize Nigerian cadets,” Emmanuel said.

The seafarer, who is currently onboard an American vessel, also stressed that Near Coastal Voyage (NCV) limitation should be scrapped from the Officer of the Watch (OOW) Licence issued by NIMASA because it isn’t 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 watch keeping undergo the professional and educational courses and exams,” he remarked.

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

He alleged that following the influx of Nigerian seafarers into Ghana for trainings and unlimited OOW, Ghana recently started giving Nigerian seafarers NCV with an excuse that the vessels didn’t sail from one continent to another.

“We have started telling our members to stop going to Ghana for trainings. It costs a minimum of about N15million, which is about $10,000, to get an OOW certificate in Ghana. This OOW used to be unlimited, but 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 seatime has to be outside Africa. What if your vessel is foreign going but during your sailing on that vessel due to ship itinerary you only called in African Ports? Will the seafarer tell the company that they should change the route?”

Comparing the seafaring profession in Nigeria to the Western countries, Emmanuel said: “In Nigeria, there are no insurance packages for seafarers but abroad it is a top priority. I signed my insurance for my current company before commencing work. While working in Nigeria, I never saw my insurance papers, let alone signing them.”

“You can find a seafarer travelling 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 trainings, which are in dollars, keep increasing. The poor remuneration of Nigerian seafarers currently makes it difficult for them to renew their licences via trainings that are priced in dollars globally.”

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