Minister of Transportation; Mr Rotimi Amaechi, has challenged ship-owners and other stakeholders in the Nigerian maritime industry to device creative means of ensuring improved welfare for seafarers, while proffering permanent solutions to issues that affect their work.
Amaechi stated this on Friday in Lagos in his address at the 2021 Day of the Seafarer, with the theme, “Fair Future for Seafarers.
The Minister extolled seafarers in Nigeria and the world over for their enormous contributions to global commerce and economy, generally, saying seafarers “contend with perils of the seas and sometimes put their lives on the line just to ensure that goods are safely delivered at designated ports. This is one of the reasons we celebrate the seafarers every year.”
Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh, spoke in a similar vein in his welcome address.
“As we celebrate the seafarers’ day, let us further identify and proffer workable solutions to the issues that will still be relevant to the seafarers after the pandemic, such as fair treatment, living and working conditions of the seafarers, etc.,” Amaechi told maritime stakeholders.
He highlighted the harrowing experiences seafarers endured in the course of their job, especially at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic last year.
“I am, however, glad to inform you that Nigeria, as a member state of the IMO, was one of the first countries to declare seafarers as essential workers in order to ease their sufferings,” the Minister stated. He added, “The nation through the Federal Ministry of Transportation and its Agencies will continue to ensure that government policies are tailored towards improving the welfare and working conditions of the seafarers in line with international standard and statutory conventions.”
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Amaechi reiterated the commitment of the Nigerian government to ensuring that the country’s maritime domain remained safe and secure for seafarers working on ships transiting through the waterways. He identified the Deep Blue Project launched by President Muhammadu Buhari on June 10 as a major effort by the government to curb the hazards of seafaring.
He said the provision of the integrated maritime security architecture was “to help combat these maritime criminalities that hinder the security of crew members.”
Besides, the Minister said, Nigeria now has an antipiracy law, the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act 2019, to prosecute maritime offenders.
Highlight of the event was the presentation of Certificates of Competency (COC) to cadets of the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) who recently graduated from the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport, Alexandra, Egypt, by the NIMASA Director General.
June 25 every year is designated as the Day of the Seafarer by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to celebrate seafarers and their contributions to human progress.
There was wide participation by maritime stakeholders in this year’s event.