Seafarers operating in the country may have cause to smile as their poor condition of service may tumble for the better, as the Maritime Administration (MA), the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) is set to review it.
Director General of the agency, Mr. Patrick Akpobolokemi, stated this yesterday in Calabar, the Cross River State capital at the celebrations marking this year’s Day of the Seafarers, which is marked all over the world as permitted by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
In a speech delivered on his behalf by the Director in the Director General’s office, Chief Peter C. Mgbemena, Akpobolokemi announced that the agency would reconvene the meeting of the National Joint Industrial Council (NJIC) to this effect.
“It is worthy of mention also that the agency has put the necessary modalities in place for the reconvening of the meeting of the National Joint Industrial Council (NJIC) for the review of the Condition of Service of Seafarers, in line with the provisions of MLC, 2006”, he stated.
Earlier, Akpobolokemi had remarked that in line with the objectives of this year’s campaign, NIMASA and other maritime stakeholders were required to increase the awareness among the general public of the indispensable services seafarers rendered to international seaborne trade, world economy and the society at large.
He added that they were required to send a clear message that they recognized and appreciated the services rendered by seamen, even under extraordinary conditions and circumstances.
“We need to re-assure the seafarers that we do care about you and shall continue to protect and look after you and your needs. At the regulatory level, we are redoubling efforts towards creating a better, safer and more secure maritime environment in which you can operate”, the NIMASA boss stated.
He pointed out how the agency had demonstrated its resolve in improving the working conditions of seafarers in the country by embarking on various capacity building and welfare programmes and went to on to mention some of them.
“It is important to note that the agency has demonstrated its resolve to improve the working and living conditions of seafarers by embarking on various capacity building and welfare programmes, which includes the successful implementation of the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP), an initiative meant to ensure highly trained and competent seafarers to enable them update their mandatory certification”, he stated.
Maritime workers at the occasion expressed gratitude to NIMASA for its concern to better the lot of Nigerian seafarers and pledged their cooperation in ensuring that the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC 2006), which has taken off worldwide, became a success.
President of the Seafarers Branch of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), Comrade Francis Bunu, commended the agency for its pro-active steps towards the MLC 2006.
He told the audience that in terms of the implementation of the Convention, Nigeria was far ahead of a country like the United States of America (U.S.A), from where he attended the one-day event.
Comrade Bunu therefore called for more funding for the agency to enable it procure equipment like patrol boats with which to monitor the progress and implementation of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) initiative.
On his part, the Secretary General, Merchant Navy and Other Water Transport Officers Association of Nigeria, Comrade Julius Efokpor, thanked NIMASA for celebrating the day for them and urged his colleagues to “shine their eye” in the implementation of the MLC 2006.
He said they should not allow it go the way of the Cabotage Act, which he claimed was hijacked by a cartel to the detriment of the Nigerian seafarer.