Both the Nigerian Association of Master Mariners (NAMM) and the Nigerian Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transport Senior Staff Association (NMNOWTSSA) have sharply disagreed over an allegation bordering on certificates held by Nigerian seafarers, especially master mariners.
The allegation was levelled by a maritime lawyer, Mr Emmanuel Nwagbara last week, when he gave reasons many older Nigerian seafarers can not sail international waters is because they only have Near Coastal Voyage Licenses (NCVL).
He said the certificate limits them to navigate on Nigerian coastal waters alone, and that they are not adequately trained to sail on international waters.
While the Nigerian Association of Master Mariners (NAMM) faulted Nwagabra’s accusation, and claimed that older seafarers were well-trained, the Nigerian Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transport Senior Staff Association (NMNOWTSSA) threw its weight behind the allegation, even as it blamed the government for issuing only NCVL.
Recall that, Nwagbara in an exclusive chat with Shipping Position Daily last week, appealed to the government to provide adequate training and also expose the old seafarers to ‘unlimited’ licenses.
He added that with adequate training and exposure, the nation’s seafarers will be more employable instead of acquiring only NCVL.
But, reacting to this, the national president of master mariners, Captain Tajudeen Alao, said that all what the older seafarers needed was a refresher course to come back to sailing again.
He maintained that most of them have foreign going certificates before being grounded.
In strong defence of is members, he said: “Rubbish, those men (old seafarers) were well trained, don't forget. Refresher courses are what they need to put on sailing toga, no active old seafarer carries NCVL. What will Government do to get them back to sea? Older seafarers had foreign going Certificates before being grounded, many went to Asia to work”.
According to Alao, the government should get foreign going liners and Nigerian seafarers should be retrained to manage them.
“Government should get foreign going liners; send our men abroad to retrain to man them. Locally, equipment are too expensive for the schools and there are no qualified trainers” ,he admitted.
Alao maintained that many of the older seafarers are mooring master even at the age of 60 to 68years.
“Many are Mooring Masters in our waters, even at ages 60 to 68 years, many master mariners average age of 40, 45,50 , are on offshore our waters as Mooring Masters, Lamnalco. Mobil, Chevron amongst others”
He also admitted that most of his members now have expired certificates, since they have not been sailing, adding that for people who work in maritime environment they only need specialized short service to revalidate them.
“Yes, for those not sailing like me. But provided you work in marine environment like NIMASA or NPA, specialized short certification courses are what you need to revalidate. Those who could not progress to highest certification and had expired certificates had to sit for NCV to work in our coast accepting the poor pay and conditions”
Meanwhile, the president of Merchant Navy, Engineer Matthew Alalade blamed the government for issuing the NCVL to seafarers.
“That is what our government is issuing out through the ministry of transportation, that is just the truth, they should upgrade, so that we can compete internationally, but for now they operate with NCVL” he concluded