From Left: The Chairman, Governing Board of NIMASA, Maj. Gen. Jonathan India Garba (Rtd.), the President of Seychelles, Mr Danny Faure and the Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside at the Blue economy conference in Nairobi, Kenya which ended mid-last week
Few years ago, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) announced that it has started arresting vessels which violate provisions of the Cabotage Law which states that Nigerians should be employed onboard such vessels.
Director of Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services at NIMASA, Ibrahim Jubril, who disclosed this at the time, had said that the agency had also acquired fast intervention vessels for the purpose intercepting erring vessels.
Jubril, also said that in order to have an accurate data of available maritime labour in the sector, NIMASA came up with an electronic register of all maritime labour in order to ensure jobs are provided for them in line with the Cabotage law.
However, fresh indications have emerged that the real reasons implementation of the provisions of the Cabotage Act has been difficult for NIMASA is lack of adequate capacity and certification by Nigerian seafarers.
Shipping Position Daily investigations have however shown that despite the monitoring task force set up by the agency to implement this, there are still foreigners in the employ of ship owners, carrying out jobs which ought to have been taken up by Nigerians.
Even though the president of the Merchant Navy and Water Transport Senior Staff Association, Engr Matthew Alalade told our correspondent that Nigeria has enough seafarers who are working outside the country, a reliable source within the NIMASA monitoring committee confirmed that Nigerian seafarers have very low certificates compared to the available jobs.
According to him, issuance of waivers to ship owners on crewing has continued because the certificates possessed by Nigerian seafarers are for ships not more than 3,000 ton , meanwhile some of the jobs, especially specialized areas in offshore business are in need of a foreign going certificate of 10,000tons capacity ships.
According to the source, "You cannot say all foreigners should go because we don’t have enough seafarers, the requirement for some of these jobs is a foreign going certificate"
"There are specialized areas in the vessel that needs to be operated, especially those offshore vessels, the certificates we carry here are mostly 3000 tonnes, meanwhile some of the foreign vessels are 10,000 tonnes, our certificates cannot carry it and that is why you see foreigners there"
"You would see Nigerians academy like MAN, Oron, they cannot issue more than 3000 tonnage", he said
Also speaking, another source who pleaded anonymity, said that NIMASA at this time cannot ask shipowners not to employ foreigners because Nigerians lack the qualification and COC (Certificate of Competency)
According to him, "the owners of these vessels are abroad, they have their manning business abroad who has met their standard, and when they come with the vessel to Nigeria, they expect to get people with equal standard. Also, the union abroad protect their members.