A group of aged seafarers who worked in the now-defunct Nigeria National Shipping Line (NNSL) has raised its voice against what they called a paltry compensation from the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
In a resounding cry for justice, the group lamented the N100 million payout plan by NIMASA and demanded a more worthwhile compensation of about N200 billion for the over 2000 workers of the defunct NNSL.
Recall that NIMASA had offered the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) the sum of N100 million as a payout plan for the seafarers, which the union rejected,
In a chat with our correspondent last week, Muhammad Hassan, an elder statesman among the defunct Nigeria National Shipping Line (NNSL) seafarers, echoed the plight of the seafarers lamented and their dissatisfaction with the N100 million offered by NIMASA.
Hassan explained that as at nine years ago, each individual seafarer’s entitlement was N75 million. This is according to their lawyer’s calculation, he said if after nine years it could possibly mean that the N100 million offer from NIMASA is what one seafarer is entitled to.
Expressing deep concern over the proposed division of the NIMASA payout, he warned that the resulting sum per person, which is estimated to be between N200,000 and N300,000, falls far short of their rightful due.
In questioning NIMASA’s role, Hassan emphasized that the agency’s responsibility lies in verification, not payment. Instead, he insisted that the ministry should oversee the compensation process, given its possession of the seafarers’ salary scale.
He further highlighted their unique status under the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), emphasizing the need for an equitable resolution of the dispute.
“NIMASA shouldn’t be the one to pay. Naturally, it should be the ministry. NIMASA is only responsible for the verification. So, we don’t know why, how they came up with N100 million and that N100 million is nothing to write home about.
“Even if we are talking about peanuts, it’s not up to peanuts. So, because we are seafarers the least worker should be entitled to about N75 million as of nine years ago
“And so if NIMASA is coming up to say over 2000 workers should share N100 million, with my calculation, each person will just be going home with about N200,000 or N300,000, thereabout” he said
Drawing comparison with their Ghanaian counterparts, Hassan lamented the disparity in compensation. He stated that after the country’s national carrier was liquidated like NNSL, Ghanaian seafarers received $1 million each along with housing compensation. He lamented that Nigerian seafarers are grappling with the prospect of an inadequate NIMASA N100 Million payout.
“For instance Ghana, when they paid their people off, Ghana paid each of them $ 1 million with a bungalow, because they have the same liquidation like ours.
Hassan, while speaking on why they decided to halt their protest to the NIMASA headquarters in Lagos last week Monday, acknowledged the intervention of President General of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), Adewale Adeyanju who persuaded the seafarers to postpone a planned protest, assuring them a fruitful end to the ongoing negotiations with NIMASA.
Hassan however criticized the attempt to channel their compensation through a pension system, emphasizing that seafarers globally are not under such schemes. He urged authorities to adhere to international standards in developing a compensation template, considering the financial strain endured by the ageing seafarers over the past 29 years since the company’s liquidation in 1995.