Even though the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) is the custodian of Nigerian seafarers, operators of the seafarers centre in Apapa Lagos, known as ‘Mission to Seafarers’ have accused the agency of neglect and refusal to render any support towards resuscitating the dilapidated centre despite several appeals.
Chaplain of Mission to Seafarers, Reverend Canon Bimbo Aduroja however confirmed to Shipping Position Daily last week that contrary to NIMASA’s stance, a terminal operator; Apapa Bulk Terminal Limited (ABTL) had recently renovated some parts of the centre.
He also said that another terminal operator, Greenview Development Nigeria Limited (GDNL) has indicated interest in reconstructing the swimming pool at the centre into a world class standard. He equally explained that the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has sent down a representative to inspect the facility and see how the agency can assist in the efforts to revive the dying seafarers centre.
Aduroja said that since he assumed office, he has written to NIMASA, shipping companies and terminal operators as well as other government agencies, appealing that the seafarers centre should be revived.
According to him, the seafarers centre is an image of Nigeria to the international community. He described it as a place of abode for visiting seafarers on vessels calling at Nigerian ports.
Specifically, he said “Seafarers come into the country through the ports, this place as it is done in other countries is supposed to be their first point of call immediately they enter the country, here they have recreation centre, bureau de change, swimming pool and so on. It is supposed to be a home away from home for seafarers”.
Speaking further, he added that, “we have tried to reach out to different organizations in the maritime industry including shipping companies, NPA, NIMASA, and terminal operators”
“Presently we have started getting positive response from people, Apapa Bulk Terminal Limited is the first company to respond to our plea, their delegates came around to see, and they decided that the bar, toilets and offices would be taken up by them for renovation and they have fulfilled this”
“The next thing is the swimming pool area, we want to raise it to an international standard, on this, the GDNL have also signified their intention to take it up”.
While lamenting the absence of NIMASA in the ongoing effort to revive the centre, he said “I have not got any response from NIMASA up till now; the NPA has signified their intention by sending their delegate to come and have a look so that they can see how they can help out. We wrote to all these organizations and we told them that we don’t need their physical cash, let them send their contractor, what we want is to get the job done”.
The seafarers’ chaplain assured that before the end of 2019, activities would pick up at the centre and that the centre would be back in full operations.
According to him, visiting seafarers have not been to the centre in a long time because of the dilapidated nature. The facility before now was occupied temporarily by the Merchant Navy Directorate for use as administrative office. Rev Aduroja however explained that the group has been sent packing from the facility in order to allow renovation.
“We asked the people that were occupying the place to vacate because we discovered that there is need for me as the chaplain to reach out to different organizations in the maritime industry, this is an inter-denominational, inter governmental, non-profit making body, so we want to reach out to people who can come to our aid to develop this place, because this centre is very important, especially as Nigerian maritime industry is concerned in relation to seafarers”
“Presently we have dilapidated quarter cabins, we want to demolish everything and erect a normal structure where we can have proper rooms, the rooms are meant for seafarers, especially the international ones that are stranded”
“Seafarers have not been visiting the centre because what will attract them over has not been put in place, it is now we are doing the renovation, when all have been completed, would have the boldness to go to the port, visit the ship and tell them to come to the centre”, he said.