There are fears that the process of issuing the all-important Certificate of Competency (CoC) to deserving seafarers may have been compromised by personnel of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
Investigations carried out by Shipping Position Daily have revealed that the Board of Trade (BoT) at NIMASA, which is in charge of issuing the Certificate Of Competency is allegedly involved in gratification and issuing certificates to incompetent and unqualified seafarers for money.
Our investigation revealed that, about 100 Certificates were issued about three weeks ago by allegedly compromised NIMASA officials.
Shipping Position Daily correspondent gathered from insider-sources that the half-baked seafarers paid as much as N75,000 to N85,000 to get the Certificate of Competency.
A source who was at the venue where the certificates were issued told our correspondent that not less than 70 people paid their ways to get the certificate.
“I was on the ground where the Certificate of Competency was issued, usually y to get the COC it should not cost more than N25,000 to N30,000 but it comes with stress and the students spend weeks before such is given to them”
“So they have to pay their way through, resulting in certificate buying, we saw people who went to do a one year course in Ghana on maritime related course and when they come back, as soon as they pay N85, 000, the COC will be given to them, we have cases of people who didn’t go to any maritime school, getting the COC, as long as they have the money the certificate will be issued”, he alleged.
Another source lamented that, corrupt Ship Masters are involved in the trending certificate racketeering.
“The Ship Masters are the ones who are meant to check the competency of this people, but as soon as they are given the money, they will recommend to NIMASA who then issue the certificate” , he added.
A seafarer who pleaded anonymity confirmed to our correspondent that there are such cases and some of the seafarers pay their way to get the certificate.
“We have cases like that, yes I know of some of my friends who actually paid their way through to get the certificate, although they have the required training, however the stress of going through the process of going for medicals and other things takes about a month, but as soon as they can afford the money required, the process will be fastened and in less than two days, they get their COC
However in a chat with one of our correspondents, the National President of the Nigeria Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transport Senior Staff Association; Engineer Matthew Alalade said he was not aware of the certificate scam.
He however said his association is aware of the huge amount that NIMASA charges for certain documents for seafarers.
"Sincerely am hearing that for the first time, I don't know if NIMASA is issuing the COC to those who don't have the training, but what I am aware of is the issue of high payment of some bills like medical and other bills and this is what we have been engaging them on, for a while now", he said.
All efforts to get the reaction of the Head Corporate Communications of NIMASA, Mr. Isichei Osamgbi were abortive as calls and text messages put across to him as at the time of writing the story were not responded to.