Nigeria, last week joined the rest of the world by commissioning a befitting international seafarers drop centre for visiting seafarers all over the world at the Apapa port.
The drop centre which is first of its kind in West and Central Africa was put together by the National Seafarers Welfare Board (NSWB) with support from the ITF Seafarers trust, London.
The occasion was attended by stakeholders including: the managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Malam Abdusallam Mohammed who also commissioned the drop centre, erstwhile chairman, of the defunct Joint Maritime Labour Industrial Council (JOMALIC) and chairman board of trustees of the (NSWB) board, Alhaji Ahmed Tijani Ramalan, the ITF representative from London Mr. Roy Paul, among others.
After taking stakeholders round the center which has brand new computers, telephone services, internet facilities and other welfare facilities, the chairman of the National Seafarers Welfare Board Otunba Kunle Folarin said that the centre was established to meet the welfare needs of international seafarers in Nigerian seaports and terminals and also learn from the differences that exist between the nationalities of the seafarers.
Acknowledging the unique nature of seafaring, he said: “by the nature of seafaring profession, it is a fact that seafarers are often deprived for a long period the advantages of family life and they are often exposed to special dangers and difficulties in foreign countries. More so, it is not possible for them to have the benefits of arrangements made to organize for their spare time, promote their welfare and safeguard the health of general body”.
Also speaking at the event, Alhaji Ramalan urged stakeholders that all hands must be on deck to support the welfare board and make sure that its objectives are sustained in order to compete with the ones in other parts of the world, even as he seized the opportunity to emphasize on the need to take seriously issues relating to seafarers.
Ramalan said that “seafarers are key to safe, secure and efficient shipping on Cleaner Ocean. Their role is critical to successful international shipping bearing in mind that about 90 per cent of the world trade are moved by ships manned by seafarers, so when they have the chance for shore leave, they need simple but secure facilities where they can contact families and others interested in their wellbeing”.
The national seafarer’s welfare board was formed inline with the ILO seafarer’s welfare convention 163 of 1987 and recommendation 48 of 1936 concerning the provisions of welfare facilities and services in ports.