Mrs Rollens Mafoy is the President of Women In Maritime Africa (WIMA) Nigeria chapter. In this interview with Joshua Yousouph, she speaks about women in maritime, cadetship, and several other industry-centered issues.
Will you like to formally introduce yourself and what you do in the industry?
I am Rollens Macfoy, President of Women in Maritime Africa (WIMA), Nigeria chapter. I am a specialist in maritime security. I lecture maritime security and I have a school endorsed by the Nigerian Maritime and Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) for Maritime Security. I also own Ocean Deep Services Limited, which is a Crewing and Manning Agency. It mans over 10 vessels, including three VLCCs. I am a specialist in Cabotage and Maritime labour when it comes to this industry.
How do you think the WIMA Nigeria Chapter can integrate into the Blue Economy?
We have women in all areas of this sector and we are ready to serve our country. In WIMA Nigeria Chapter, we have ship owners, freight forwarders, and maritime specialists, academics in Maritime schools, HR Practitioners in shipping companies, ship security specialists, seafarers and cadets. We also have maritime lawyers amongst us. We have people who have also worked in the port, NIMASA, other government agencies and retired. We still have also a lot of female Directors in NIMASA who are members of this organization, and some of them are also at the NPA. So we are around the world in the maritime industry. So what else can any industry ask of, when it comes to women in the Marine and Blue Economy development?
Kindly suggest to the federal government areas that can deliver immediate gains in the sector?
Immediate gains in the sector in what way? This is because they are so many. We are talking about ease of doing business for vessel owners vis-a-vis the various registrations with the NPA, NIMASA, Shippers Council and all that. We are also talking about seafarers’ remuneration, accreditation and certification. We are also talking about the movement of vessels in the sea. So it depends on the area where one is interested in and where you feel that you want me to elaborate.
From your own profession, what do you think the industry is meant to gain from training and retraining the seafarers?
Training first, let’s not talk about retraining yet. Let’s talk about proper training; proper certification because right now we have Near Coastal Voyage (NCV); no country is accepting that. Again, those of them who schooled abroad through the NIMASA programme, they come back to the country here. We should make our seafarers very sumptuous so that vessels in Nigeria will not discriminate against them. So if our seafarers are well paid, I can assure you that this sea is big enough to employ as many people as possible, if given the opportunity and if Cabotage is working. This sea is big enough to employ 5000 people today and you can imagine what it means to take 5000 youths out of loitering.
The World Maritime Day is around the corner now and the theme is MARPOL @50. How do we start getting rid of plastic litter and ships decarbonisation?
As a matter of fact, getting rid of plastic litter starts from every home and not just from the ship. This is because plastic is a basic use in most homes. So are we going to say eradicate plastic manufacturers or we are going to say that users should dispose properly? In this issue of marine litter we are talking about, it is not only ships that are involved because now the ships are well organized. NIMASA is on top of it on how you dispose your wastes. But the major litter that goes into the sea is right from the home, from the street and all that and that is why we say that this cannot be successful without the Lagos State Waste Management Agency (LAWMA). It cannot be complete without every individual in every home. In most homes, they use plastic and they throw it away. All these things we say are out of our house, environment, vicinity, street or compound, where are they? They all end up in the sea. So it’s a whole thing for everybody in the country to be aware of. We need not over-emphasize the damage caused by these plastics to animal life in the sea.
In assessing Green Finance, how much will this help to achieve the greener initiative?
Number one, people in the shipping industry don’t have anything like green finance. In other countries, you have the maritime industry being able to borrow from the bank at five percent, four percent and at nine percent. But in this country, ship owners take loan on 30 percent. Who does that? How does it work? So we don’t even have a maritime bank. We are supposed to have one, two or three maritime banks. The issue of CVFF that we are talking about now is supposed to be legislated over by a maritime bank. It has been there, one ministry after the other or one minister after the other, we talk and nothing happens. But I think we are big enough in the maritime domain to have one, two or even three maritime banks. As a matter of fact, individuals can also set up maritime banks, not just governments. And if these things are not done, if the ship owners don’t have ease of doing business, if they are having hiccups here and there, of course, every other thing surrounding them, including the employment of seafarers will have hiccups here and there. So this is the beginning of the green finance. The federal government also should look at it very well and that is why we say we are happy that we now have a Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, which has this holistic presentation. Unlike before, when you have just the Transport Ministry, you have the rail, road and different ones. But now we are talking about Marine. It is narrower now. Although it is still broad, but at least it could be handled very well. That’s why we are appealing to the Minister, we are saying he should please have consultation with stakeholders, ship owners, manning agents, barge owners and students including the students from Oron, students from abroad and students from Oceanography. What are their difficulties? How can we go forward? What has been happening all these years and what has been done and what has been left undone? To the manning agents, what is your inhibition? Are we complying with MLC 2006 or we just have the certificate? Are we treating our seafarers’ right or we just treat them anyhow and dump them anyhow? Are our schools running the way they are supposed to be running? Do they have the right lecturers? If they have the right lecturers and if they are doing the right courses, why is our certificate having limitations? All these and many more should be addressed, because why we are having this problem is that these students that school in Nigeria are only roaming within Nigeria to get jobs. Often, there are a lot of marine jobs in the internet. We see all of them, but are they qualified to go over there? The people outside the country are qualified to come here, but Nigerians are not qualified to work at any other place, especially when they have certificates in Nigeria. What’s the problem? Let’s bridge it. Let’s bring in professionals if we have to bring in professionals. If we have to upgrade, what does it take to upgrade? I mean, a journey of 1000 miles begins with a step. Let’s begin somewhere and let’s give ourselves in the next four years, I’m sure we’ll get the
Beyond asking for women inclusiveness in key decision-making positions in the sector, don’t you think women have always been favoured?
If you say women have been favoured, I want to say since you were born, how many Ministers of Transportation have we had and how many Managing Directors of NPA have we had? We had only one woman. Is that the favour? Hadiza Bala Usman was doing so well, but what happened?
What are the agenda you have for the new Minister?
The agenda we have for the new minister is so numerous, but let me just mention a few. First is Ease of Doing Business. Ease of Doing Business is the A to Z of any economy. We have a situation where it’s so difficult to register barges, it is so difficult to register vessels too. Up till the last time I checked, barge owners register with Shipper’s Council, NIMASA, NPA, and NIWA and all these things are money. Why can’t we just say, oh, register with this agency and then we avail all the other agencies in the ministry the copies to give them a soft landing? If we don’t do all this, the end user takes it all because all the costs will go to them.
Secondly, we talk about maritime labour; talking about our seafarers. We ask him to critically look into this. I can talk on that authoritatively, because I have been in this business for over 20 years. He should look at it very well. He should think and have close meetings with the people that are directly involved to know exactly what’s going on. Our seafarers’ remuneration is very poor. How are seafarers in other countries being remunerated compared to how are our own seafarers are being remunerated? A lot of things surrounding seafarers are just too many. We are praying because our children are going into these schools and they are coming out with no job. We don’t want them to be discouraged. It is a very viable and lucrative job, so we should make it like it is. Speaking on our certificates, what is holding our seafarer certificates so that UK, Ghana and other countries will start accepting it and our children can work anywhere in the world? This is because people from these respective countries that we are talking about work here in Nigeria, but our children cannot work over there. This is a very critical aspect that should be looked into very well.
I want to also dwell on talking about women. Everywhere we have been in the world for seminars, capacity building, whatever, you would realise that all of these countries sponsor women in maritime, trying to encourage the women in maritime. What I mean is sponsor, it is not giving two million or giving three million naira. We are talking about real capacity building and a sustainable one. I know that the agencies like NIMASA and NPA sponsor their women. But we are talking about the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy reaching outside to other women that are interested in this industry and would want to do something. Of course, they’ve all had basic education and they’ve been fighting for themselves.
What is your take about the delayed disbursement of CVFF to indigenous ship owners?
I don’t want to say much about the CVFF. I am not in a position to talk about it because it has been on in the last 10 to 15 years; government after government. Personally, I feel that we should give the Minister a breathing space. Let him settle down, study the industry and then decide on what to do. He would talk with stakeholders because the money belongs to stakeholders. I’m very optimistic that he will come up with something better to do. But if you ask me as a person, I don’t advocate for that money to be shared. MAN Oron has no practicing vessel and Oceanography has no practicing vessel. The children come out of school and then many vessels are saying we cannot take them because they don’t have the experience. No place to even look at Cadetship. We used to have National Shipping line in those days that was absorbing these students.