The management of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has pledged to renovate the abandoned and dilapidated Mission to Seafarers (MTS) center in Apapa to a global standard.
The Managing Director of NPA, Mohammed Bello-Koko, who disclosed this during the weekend in Lagos, decried the current state of the MTS Centre, which he said is not good enough for the image of the country as a maritime nation.
He said the current status of the MTS Centre does not present the kind of ambiance suitable for the seafarers from all over the world, thus the urgent need to revamp it and bring it to global standards.
Bello-Koko who came on the visit with a team of engineers, subsequently directed them to start job immediately even as a 3D Project Plan was given to them by management of the mission to work upon.
“The physical infrastructure is quite embarrassing, it’s dilapidated, this is not what I expected to see and I am really sad to see this. We all know the relevance of the mission, they are to take relevant actions concerning the welfare of the seafarers, and their mental health. The seafarers have been doing quite a good job.
“In recent times, we have had discussions with them and we felt that there is need for the NPA to get involved in the renovation of this place. This is where sailors come into when they arrive Nigeria from other countries to relax and spend a good time, but this is not befitting.
“In Nigeria, the port community revolves around the Port Authority and probably a few stakeholders, so, we would take responsibility, the bulk stops here,” he said.
Bello-Koko said that Seafarers are integral part of the cargo supply chain, and that their welfare is very important, adding that the NPA is constantly partnering with agencies including the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) on the general welfare of seafarers.
He said that this is why “A Day of the Seafarers” is celebrated annually to discuss their welfare and ensure they get all they deserve, especially medical and mental health needs.
“This place used to be one of the best in the world, but today, you can see its current state. What you are going to see is that NPA is coming onboard to ensure that this centre is renovated, we would give it a befitting look and the necessary ambience and conducive environment for seafarers coming into Nigeria, they would get the same service and attention that they get in other parts of the world.
“This would also help to increase the rating of our port, you shouldn’t come to Nigeria after staying 30 days on the vessel and still be forced to remain on the vessel for another four weeks, just because we do not have the necessary conducive environment.
“You are going to see activities happening here very soon, NPA is going to give the necessary support to Mission to Seafarers Lagos,” Bello-Koko assured
Also speaking, Chairman of the Mission to Seafarers (MTS Lagos) Chief Adebayo Sarumi said that Mission to Seafarers is a global organization with centres established all over the world.
He, however, lamented that the center located in Nigeria is an eyesore.
Sarumi took a swipe at other government agencies operating in the maritime sector, apparently, for abandoning the seafarers centre, adding that only NPA and a few other companies have been forthcoming.
“We appreciate the NPA for coming in to render this support, we understand the burden of it, it’s a lot of burden, NPA has always been in the vanguard of everything, a Port Community is a community that shares virtually everything, but it is now becoming only NPA carrying everything, and we are grateful to the Managing Director for not changing that perception,” he said..