The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) said it has trained a total of 2041 Nigerians through the National Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) since the inception of the programme about 12 years ago.
Disclosing this over the weekend during the flag off ceremony of the Batch B of the 3rd phase of the NSDP, the Director General NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh informed that out of the 2041 seafarers, 892 are now licensed deck and engine officers including naval architects, while the rest are in their final stages of the programme.
He further said that out of the trained seafarers, 486 are now gainfully-employed and sailing in both coastal and ocean-going vessels.
The DG NIMASA stated that the agency, in fulfilling one of its core functions in the area of maritime capacity building in 2008 initiated the NSDP with the sole mandate of training Nigerian youths to become seafarers and Naval Architects.
He said the programme was designed to train Nigerian youths up to University Degree level in Marine Engineering, Nautical Sciences and Naval Architecture in some of the best Maritime Training Institutions (MTIs) abroad and to position them to compete effectively in the global Maritime Industry.
He added that the introduction of the NSDP, has helped increased the number of Nigeria seafarers, he explained that the number of Nigerian seafarers on ocean going vessels as at then had depleted over the years and the urgent need to boost it adequately for effective implementation of the coastal and inland shipping policy of the Government, informed the initiative.
According to him, “at some point, it was said that Nigeria had less than 10 seafarers on ocean going vessels, while countries like the Philippines had over 400,000, and currently earn over Six $6,000,000,000 in forex inflow from their seafarers employed around the world. Countries like India, Indonesia and China also have their nationals all around the world working in the maritime industries. It is hoped that with continuous progress made and better projections in the NSDP, Nigeria will soon be among the major players in the global maritime sector.”
He disclosed that the NIMASA and the Federal Ministry of Transportation (FMOT) is satisfied with the above success and the need to drive the policy of the Federal Government on youths empowerment to a laudable height approved the expansion of the programme by 435 new intakes.
“While implementing this, we took into account the encumbrances encountered in the operations of the programme in the last 12 years and ways of eliminating or minimising them.
On the prospect of the programme, he disclosed that the past decade has witnessed an increase in the global trading fleet, partly on account of developments in Asia and other emerging opportunities. In Nigeria, the demand for seafarers has also increased on account of the Cabotage regime which requires that vessels engaged in commercial trade and operations in the coastal and inland waters in Nigeria should be manned by Nigerians.
Jamoh added that another prospect is the growing off-shore oil exploration and production activities, which have increased the vessel requirements to meet demand in the sector.
Other areas with significant prospects include the fishing sector, the manning of inland waterway crafts and coastal tankers.
“Overall, the prospects for the future of the Nigerian shipping industry remain very bright in spite of the manpower constraints. It is our hope that the NSDP scheme will in the long run increase the pool of Nigerian seafarers for export to other countries,” he said.
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