Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh, has disclosed that there are policies in the pipeline to improve the quality of training and certification, as well as remuneration for the country’s seafarers. Jamoh stated this on Thursday in Lagos during a webinar hosted by NIMASA to mark the Day of the Seafarer.
The session featured local and international participation, with the key speaker and consultant at Transbasin Limited, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Karen Ogidigben Onimisi, and Nigerian Labour Attaché at the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Switzerland, Essah Aniefiok Etim, calling for better welfare and support for seafarers.
The Director-General stated, “Policies are in the pipeline to improve the quality of training and certificates we give to the seafarers. We are taking steps to standardise the curriculum of our training institutions in line with international standards.
“We are also working on increasing the remuneration of our seafarers. These policies would be announced as soon as we complete work on them.”
He said seafarers were among the most courageous people in the world, stressing that the theme for this year’s Day of the Seafarer, “Seafarers are Key Workers,” is a “testament to the fact that the world cannot do without seafarers. Seafarers hold the key to humanity’s survival on a day-to-day basis.
“They hold the key to our wellbeing in this time of COVID-19 period.”
Jamoh praised seafarers for sustaining the global supply chain, distributing urgently needed medical supplies with enormous risk to their lives and families.
“The seafarers are unsung heroes, they are also our invisible heroes. We see their handwork everyday and everywhere in agricultural machinery, the food we eat, and the unbroken run of the manufacturing base, despite the global lockdown.”
The Director-General spoke on the challenges faced by seafarers amid the coronavirus pandemic, including stringent work conditions in some countries, movement restrictions, lockdowns, crew change difficulties, fatigue and seasickness, and disruption of contracts.
But he said, “As a regular, we have taken steps to alleviate the suffering of the seafarers. NIMASA was among the first government agencies to declare seafarers as being on essential duty, and we published this in a marine notice. We also issued COVID-19 guidelines to incoming ships towards ensuring that there is no importation of the virus by sea.
“NIMASA was the first in West Africa to issue a COVID-19 marine notice.
“We challenged ship-owners and employers of seafarers to take necessary proactive measures to lessen the pains of seafarers.
“We also walked in lockstep with the IMO to tailor all our marine notices in the early period of COVID-19 towards supporting the extension of the validity of seafarers’ certificates, crew change, guidelines, procedure and their designation as essential workers.”
Jamoh added, “It is said that a good sailor weathers the storm he cannot avoid; COVID-19 was a storm Seafarers couldn’t avoid. As tried and tested seamen and women, our seafarers have continued to weather this storm for us. We celebrate you today. Nigeria thanks you, the world appreciates you, NIMASA as a regulator will never abandon you. We will support you all the way.”
Karen, who is Director, Maritime Sector Consultant at Transbasin Limited, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, called on the international community to render necessary assistance to seafarers, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. She commended NIMASA for supporting seafarers during the pandemic and emphasised the need for Nigeria to develop post-pandemic measures to make the country’s seafarers internationally marketable and competitive.
Karen said, “Seafarers are part of the global supply chain and should have access to shore leave at ports in accordance with global regulations. There is also a need to look at improved ways to mitigate the challenges that COVID-19 has brought before us, commencing with digitalisation of our processes, including local training and licensing of Nigerian seafarers.”
Etim, who is ILO Nigerian Labour Attaché, Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations in Switzerland, sued for better working conditions for seafarers. He called for greater opportunities to make their voices heard, saying they should be encouraged through appropriate rewards and compensations.
As part of the activities marking the day, NIMASA donated to the seafarers items that included essential commodities, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), facemasks, and hand sanitisers.
The Day of the Seafarer, marked June 25 every year worldwide, is a day set aside by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to celebrate seafarers and recognise their invaluable contribution to the global economy. This year’s virtual event, themed, “Seafarers are Keyworkers”, held via WebEx, specifically draws attention to the critical role and challenges of seafarers in the COVID 19 period.
Navy Rescues Crew From Burning Fishing Vessel
The Nigerian Navy Command says its gallant personnel rescued three Beninoise nationals from a burning fishing vessel that caught fire at the Lagos anchorage, recently.
Flag Officer Commanding, Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Oladele Daji, made this known in a statement.
The FOC said the crew members were rescued by the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) BINI after a distress call was sent out past midnight, on April 21.
According to him, on arrival at the scene, the fishing boat was completely engulfed by fire with one of the rescued crew members, Yoes Senovou, severely burnt in the incident.
He said the crew members who could not communicate in English were given first aid at the Naval Base where they were stabilized, while Senovou was taken to the Nigerian Navy Reference Hospital, Ojo, for treatment.
“NNS BINI, while on routine patrol, responded to a distress call from a boat with call sign Sport Tail shortly after midnight on 21st April 2020 within the Lagos anchorage area.
“On arrival at the scene, a fishing boat was completely engulfed by fire. Three crew members, all Beninoise nationals, were rescued from the water and handed over to NNS Beecroft. They were given first aids at the Naval Base and stabilized.
“But one of the rescued crew members, Mr. Yoes Senovou, was badly burnt in the fire incident. He was promptly taken to the Nigerian Navy Reference Hospital, Ojo, where he was treated.
“It was not immediately clear why they were fishing in Nigerian waters, if indeed they were truly fishing. Although none of the crew members could communicate in English, they gestured that they had machinery failure and drifted into Nigerian waters”, the FOC said in the statement.
Daji said efforts were ongoing to hand over the rescued persons to the Benin Republic Consulate in Lagos, if they are not implicated in any criminal activity.
Unpaid Allowances:Dock Workers Shut Operations At PTOL
Aggrieved members of Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) on Wednesday shut down operational activities at Ports Terminal Operators Limited (PTOL) located at the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Port Harcourt Complex, over unpaid allowances.
The angry protesters also demanded for the removal of the Acting General Manager of the company, Mr. Mac Pherson, due to his alleged insensitivity to the plights of casual workers.
The protest which started at 8.am saw the gate of PTOL besieged by angry dockworkers who carried placards with bold inscriptions: “Pay us our allowances and we want the AGM removed”.
The protest forced the firm to shut down operations as over 100 dockworkers stormed the company’s premises, chanting labour slogans.
Our correspondent, who monitored the protest reports that the aggrieved workers forced their way into the company’s premises and disrupted its operations.
The angry workers blocked the main gate of the firm and prevented movement of persons and vehicular activities to and from the company.
There was, however, huge presence of armed policemen to prevent any breakdown of law and order.
Although the protesting workers declined to speak to the press, they insisted on the payment of their allowances and the removal of the company’s acting general manager.
Attempts to also speak with the management of the firm proved abortive as none was handy to comment on the development.
Stories by Chinedu Wosu
‘Pirates Abduct 22 Seafarers, Attack 37 Vessels In Four Months’
A global maritime reporting centre, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), said a total of 22 seafarers were abducted by pirates and 37 vessels attacked in the first quarter of 2020.
The Bureau said it received reports of 47 attacks in the first three months of this year, with the Gulf of Guinea remaining the world’s piracy hotspot.
This is as IBM said, many incidents remain unreported even as seafarers were advised to remain vigilant at all times.
The Bureau’s 24-hour Piracy Reporting Centre disclosed this in a statement made available to The Tide.
The centre said, it recorded 21 attacks in the Gulf of Guinea in the first three months of this year, explaining that 12 were on vessels underway at an average of 70 nautical miles off the coast.
Armed perpetrators are targeting all vessel types. They approach in speedboats, boarding ships in order to steal stores or cargo and abduct crew members to demand a ransom, IBM said.
The Bureau explained further that the 17 crew members were kidnapped in three incidents in the Gulf of Guinea waters, at distances of between 45 and 75 nautical miles from the coast; 10 vessels were fired upon worldwide for the whole of 2019, with four already reported being fired at within Nigerian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the first quarter of 2020.
This, according to IBM, includes a container ship underway around 130 nm southwest of Brass.
The report said another container ship was boarded by pirates in another incident around 102 nm northwest of Sao Tome Island.
Speaking on the report, IMB Director, Michael Howlett, said: “Navy patrols, onboard security measures, cooperation and transparent information exchange between authorities, are all factors which help address the crimes of piracy and armed robbery.
“The threat to crew is, however, still real – whether from violent gangs, or opportunistic armed thieves inadvertently coming face-to-face with the crew. Ships’ masters must continue to follow industry best practice diligently and maintain watches.
“Early detection of an approaching pirate skiff is often key to avoiding an attack.”
The piracy report shows zero hijackings in the last two quarters and no incidents around Somalia.
In Indonesia, five anchored vessels were reported boarded by pirates, and five ships boarded while underway in the Singapore Straits.
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