By Stphen Ubanna
Bashir Jamoh, OFR, Director General, Nigeran Maritime Administration ‘and Safety Agency, NIMASA, is a happy man. amoh’s source of happiness is that apart from facilitating the approval for the implementation of the Cabotage Vessels Finance Fund, CVFF, by former President Muhammadu Buhari, using his close working relationship with Muazu Jaji Sambo, an Engineer, and the then minister of Transportation to do so, the NIMASA, Chief Executive Officer, CEO, appears to have achieve another feat.
In line with the principles and guidelines of the Cabotage regime that was passed by the National Assembly and signed into Law by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, in 1993, which is primarily ‘’to stimulate the development of indigenous capacity in the nation’s maritime industry, the Maritime regulatory agency over the last three years has ensured ‘’the placement of Nigerian Seafarers on board the cabotage vessels.
In improving on the country’s shipping capacity, The Value News, learnt that ‘’manning applications processed on the condition that all foreign crew, particular ratings on board vessels are to be placed with the Nigerian seafarers /cadets within two – three weeks of operations.
It was gathered that 539 Nigerian seafarers were said to have been recommended for replacement by the agency in the first quarter of 2023. Osagie, Edward, an Assistant Director and the agency spokesperson, had said that under the current Leadership of Jamoh, NIMASA, had placed over 3,705 seafarers on board Cabotage vessels in the year 2021, and another 7, 238seafarers, between January 2023 and July 2023.
The NIMASA, spokesperson, noted that a total of 11,956, Nigerian seafarers have been placed on board Cabotage vessels from January 2021 to July, 2023, noting that more seafarers are being placed down to board the Cabotage vessels before the tail end of this fiscal year.
As a prelude to ensuring a level playing field for the seafarers in boarding the Cabotage vessels without any undue influence from any quarters, registration and documentation of potential seafarers were said to have digitalized as the establishment of the e-platform which is to enable the online and real-time registration of the maritime labour (seafarers and workers), maritime labour employers , (shipping companies , manning /crewing agents, stevedoring companies, jetties/terminal operators and operators of bonded terminals, Inland Container deports, off dock terminals , dry ports offshore platforms.
It is worthwhile to mention that ‘’the maritime labour e-platform as a robust integrated information, verification and communication facility that provides real-time information on maritime labour registration process and operations as well as enables the online registration and verification of documents and the issuance of operational licenses identity’’. That much was said by Edward, the NIMASA, image maker.
According to him, the platform is also meant ‘’to serve as a database from which statistics can be extrapolated for national planning, policy formulation, human and infrastructural development and research purposes’’. He may have spoken the mind of the agency Director General, when he disclosed that the agency is in the process ‘’to host the E-registration platform on the its website’’.
He noted that 3,219 and 3,619, seafarers were registered in 2021 and 2022, respectively. This is in addition to the 1,176, that were said to have been registered between January and July 2023. He had said that 24 MLC, 2006 Certificates, were issued in the year 2021, alone, 49 MLC, 2006, certificates issued in the year 2022,63 MLC, 2006 certificates, 2006 certificates issued between January and July, 2023.
He asserted that a total of 8, 014, have been registered by the agency from 2021 to July, 2023 and 136 MLC, 2006 certificates issued after inspections within the same years. It is on records in NIMASA, books, that 65 stevedoring companies , 26 terminal/jetty operators and 1, 395 dockworkers were registered from 2021 to July, 2023.
Recall that NIMASA, HAD IN 2008, initiated the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme, NSDP, with the sole mandate of training Nigerian youths to become seafarers and Naval Architects in fulfilling one of core functions in the area of maritime capacity building.
The programme, according to Jamo, the NIMASA, CEO, was designed to train the Nigerian youths up to degree level in marine Engineering, Nautical Sciences and Naval Architecture in some of the best maritime Training Institutions abroad and to position them ‘’to compete effectively in the global maritime industry as a means of developing the Nigerian maritime space’’.
Note that in December, 2022, NMASA, had sent forth 235 Nigerians to the Asian country of India and the Greece as Batch B of the 435 young Nigerians to be trained as Licensed Deck and Engine officers including Naval Architects under the agency’s NSDP, with an additional 200 having been previously sponsored for overseas training under the Batch A, of the programme.
Jamoh, the NIMASA, boss who could who could not hide his feelings had confirmed that the agency over the last three years has been working with countries who are committed to an understanding for mutual recognition of Certificate of Competency, CoC, and that had underpinned the selection of the chosen Institutes to train the beneficiaries.
He averred that the agency has succeeded in providing sea time for all the beneficiaries of the NSDP, between March 10, 2010 and now, stressing that ‘’the bedrock for young Nigerians to earn foreign currencies and improve remittances to the country in the coming years has been set by the agency.