The Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Bashir Jamoh, said on Friday that there were plans to improve the remuneration of seafarers.
Jamoh spoke during a webinar hosted by NIMASA to mark the Day of the Seafarers, marked on June 25.
According to the Director-General, policies are also in the pipeline to improve the quality of training and certificates given to the seafarers in the country.
“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 will be announced as soon as we the work is completed,” he said.
Jamoh said seafarers were among the most courageous people in the world.
He said that the theme for this year’s Day of the Seafarer, “Seafarers are Key Workers,” was a testament to the fact that the world could not 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,” he said.
Jamoh lauded 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,” he said.
The Director-General said that the seafarers were faced with stringent work conditions in some countries, movement restrictions, lockdowns, crew change difficulties, fatigue and sea sickness, and disruption of contracts.
He said that as a regulator, NIMASA had taken steps to alleviate the suffering of the seafarers, stating that it was among the first government agencies to declare them as being on essential duty, which was published in a marine notice.
Jamoh also said that NIMASA issued COVID-19 guidelines to incoming ships toward ensuring that there was no importation of the virus by sea.
“NIMASA was the first in West Africa to issue a COVID-19 marine notice and 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.
“It is said that a good sailor weathers the storm he cannot avoid; COVID-19 was a storm Seafarers couldn’t avoid and 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,” he said.
Mrs Karen Ogidigben Onimisi, Director, Maritime Sector Consultant at Transbasin Ltd 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.
“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,” she said.
Mr Essah Aniefiok Etim, 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 compensation.
As part of the activities marking the day, NIMASA donated to the seafarers items that include essential commodities, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), facemasks, and hand sanitisers.
The Day of the Seafarer, marked every June 25 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” drew attention to the critical role and challenges of seafarers in the COVID-19 period.
Edited By: Edith Bolokor/Oluwole Sogunle (NAN)
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