Merchant Navy Raises Alarm As More Mushroom Schools Spring Up   

• Tasks Navy, NIMASA to shut down unregistered training outfits

 The Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transporters Senior Staff Association has raised alarm Over what it called  increase in ‘training jungles’ that are scattered all around the country, allegedly operating under the guise of being a merchant navy academies.

It consequently charged the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigerian Navy to take drastic action and close down such illegal outfits.

Speaking with Shipping Position Daily at the union’s secretariat, its Vice President, Engr Reginald Oyemnobi raised concerns that such illegal training institutions  cannot be described as an academy or a maritime institution, because they are equipping young men with military drills, all in the name of 'impersonating' the Nigerian Navy.

Oyemnobi also charged NIMASA to work with the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) in order to identify and shut down mushroom maritime academies that are not registered with either NIMASA or the NBTE.

He raised concerns that some clandestine outfits have sprung up in Lagos, Badagry, Sagamu, Osun State, and Port Harcourt, among others where the jungle training is being carried out.

According to him, "there are some training jungles scattered around Nigeria, wearing uniforms and training people, they are never registered as schools, they just gather boys in one house and start giving them military training like the one in Sagamu and Badagry"

"This body (merchant navy union) has done much, we have written a letter to that effect to the Nigerian Navy on some groups impersonating Merchant Navy, which the Navy have also replied that they are aware some outfits were impersonating them also".

"We are not referring to established institutions per say, because one day, they will also grow , we are referring to training jungles where some junior officers after leaving the Navy, they go somewhere and start answering commander, gathering people and giving them orientation, collecting money from them and deceiving them that they would become Nigerian Navy"

"This is why there is proliferation of Maritime Bills everywhere, they collect money from these boys and say they are going to Abuja to sponsor maritime Bills, they tried it but we have stopped them" he said

Even though he acknowledged that Nigeria needs more of maritime institutions, he called for a well regulated and monitoring system by NIMASA and NBTE in order not to allow mushroom academies hijack training of cadets

He disclosed to Shipping Position Daily that the merchant navy union have in the past invited close to 90 percent of the private maritime institutions and advised them  to form an Association of Private Qwned Maritime Institution, so that they can use this association to track down those institutions that are not genuine in the business.

According to him, "The essence of this advice is for them to have one house. For merchant Navy, it would not be easy for us to detect who is fake and who is not, and we don't have a task force to that effect"

"We have told NIMASA to work with NBTE which is the body in charge of tertiary institutions; the provision of NIMASA Act is to deal with those institutions running basic mandatory courses, while NBTE deals with those running Diplomas, ND and HND"

"We are of the opinion that no amount of private institutions would be enough for the maritime sector because of our population, looking at the Philippines, India and others and how they run their system.

“What they do is that in India, they usually write a common exam, all the private maritime institutions, when you pass out, you now go to the ministry of transportation where they set a standard examination for everyone to know who is qualified before proceeding for sea term", he said.