Nigeria Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transport Senor Staff Association (NMNO/WTSSA) has urged Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to stop disparity in wages of foreign and Nigerian seafarers.
The President of the union, Engr. Bob Yousou, in his address to commemorate the International Day of the Seafarers 2020, on Thursday, said the union had been clamoring for fair deal for its members in terms of their remuneration.
Yousou said it was no longer acceptable that foreign seafarers should earn more than Nigerians, as seafaring is a global profession.
He said that in terms of certificate acceptance by other countries, NIMASA should have a bilateral and multilateral agreement with other maritime nations so as to recognise certificates issued by the agency.
“In the same vein, we request NIMASA legal department to expedite action to making sure the issue of Near Coastal Voyage (NCV) in our certificates is resolved and our Certificate of Competency (COC) be in line with other Maritime States i.e. classes preferred to NCV.
“As we celebrate the Seafarers worldwide today, it is very pertinent to acknowledge the challenges they face as well as the sacrifices they offer to ensure the chain of global trade is maintained.
“It is therefore my pleasure to request the apex regulatory body, NIMASA, to do more by ensuring that Nigerian seafarers are well paid and are also provided with decent working environment in line with international best practices.
“NIMASA should ensure that unpaid wages to Nigerian seafarers becomes a thing of the past.
“The agency should have a holistic appraisal of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund as to distribute the funds to indigenous ship-owners to boost our national fleets. In doing this; the fund should be distributed on merit basis,” he said
Yousou said that the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) set the theme for seafarers day 2020 as “Seafarers as Essential Workers.”
He said that June 25 of every year had been set aside by IMO to celebrate the braveness of seafarers globally in the discharge of their duties in a most terrifying condition of the ocean and seas.
The merchant navy president noted that Nigerian seafarers were among the frontline workers of COVID-19 pandemic.
He said that they played very vital roles in making sure food items, medicine, medical personnel as well as medical equipment were transmitted to where they were mostly needed.
According to him, the global epidemic has greatly affected the seafarers as it becomes very difficult for crew change, as crew are expected to be quarantined before going or disembarking onboard.
He said that difficult working conditions, difficulties in accessing ports and repatriation were some of the serious challenges being faced this period by seafarers.
Yousou said the interstate movement restrictions pose another challenge to the seafaring profession.
“We, however, appreciate NIMASA for being there for us in this regard as the agency put in much effort to convince the Federal Government of Nigeria why seafarers should be considered as essential service providers.
“As the world recognises the impact of seafarers today, I will like to reiterate that these noble professionals, that are more than 1.5 million of the world working population, be highly respected by shipping companies, manning agents and the government because they provide unimagined duties, yet, they are often overlooked despite their relevance.
“Without seafarers, the world will have been in different look.
“It is my submission that Nigeria, through NIMASA, should recognise seafarers as essential service providers and therefore the need to support, assist and make travel options open to them during this trying times in our life history,” Yousou said.