Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Temisan Omatseye, has attributed the inability of the agency to adequately cater for seafarers and dockworkers in the maritime sector to the impersonation of manning agents on board vessels.
The NIMASA boss, who lamented the cases of fake manning agents in the sector, said this is making it impossible for the agency to fulfill its responsibilities to the workers.
“The story is the same for manning agents, these illegal manning agents board crew vessels without certification thereby leading to lack of data to plan their welfare, this impersonation by agents implies pervasive crewing of vessels by quacks with inherent danger to life and property at sea”, he said.
By virtue of the NIMASA Act 2007, all issues that relate to International Labour Organisation (ILO) and all other issues that have to do with seafaring, including the International Maritime Organisation, lies with NIMASA.
Omatseye, while addressing stakeholders at a roundtable meeting on the engagement of seafarers and dockworkers under NIMASA Act, disclosed that the agency is poised to ensure compliance and full registration by all dockworkers and seafarers.
According to him, less than three percent of dockworkers operating in the western zone are registered with NIMASA and that out of 770 seafarers operating in the zone, only 47 of them are registered on board cabotage ships.
He expressed disappointment at the figure saying that the above statistics is probably an outcome of ignorance or evasion but it is pertinent to point out that fees are not attached to their registration, it is also important to point out that by registering, seafarers are helping NIMASA to cater for them through conduct of examinations, certification and review of condition of services.
However, the leadership of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) anticipates a turn around on the condition of service for all maritime workers in the country.
Secretary General of MWUN, Aham Ubani, who represented the president general, Tony Nted at the stakeholders meeting, lamented that since the enactment of the cabotage act, maritime workers are yet to reap its dividends.
“On the enactment of the Cabotage Act, we were expecting an employment boom for our seafarers, but we are yet to realise that, we were promised by the authorities that port concession will bring about greater opportunities for the employment of more dockworkers and permanent staff. These promises have become a cruel device as over 60 percent of the dock workers are now jobless”, he added.