By Stephen Ubanna
For years, Nigerian seafarers had repeatedly complained of marginalization by foreign shipping lines and Nigerian Liquefied, NLNG, Limited, particular, over poor remuneration compared to their Philipian Counterparts.
The Value investigations shows that there are over 50,000 merchant vessels operating all over the world , transferring cargoes between places and keeping economies of countries inEurope, Asia, North and South America including the African continent running.
There is no gain saying the fact that oil and gas from the Gulf region, or phones in containers being shipped from the Asian countries of China, Honkong or the North American country of Vietnam to other parts of the world is running on a 24 hours non-stop on a daily basis with the precision and diligence of seafarers.
While the Ship Brokers, Charterer s and ship owners are said to be taking care of the financial aspect of the trade , the seafarers, according to industry stakeholders are the one executing the real life aspect of the maritime trade.
Note that the job of the seafarers involve years of rigorous training in mastering all aspects of Navigation, cargo work and ship operations and the everyday application of I which may have informed why they desired improved working condition and standard of living . It is on records that ships carry more than 90% of world trade manned by the seafarers, and both Nigerians and foreigners.
This may have informed , why Bashir Jamoh, Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, with his over 29 years in the nation’s maritime sector had made it as his watchword over the last two years ‘’to improve the country’s seafarers welfare by initiating measures to support the move.
The NIMASA, Director General may have gladdened the heart of the Nigerian seafarers when he hinted in November, 2020, barely one year in office, that there are policies on the pipeline to improve the quality of training and Certification, as well as the remuneration of the country’s seafarers.
The NIMASA, Chief Executive Officer, CEO, and his Management Team from the onset, an insider said have been much committed in developing a system of harmonized Port state Control Inspection procedures and working through the strategic quadrants cooperation, coordination, collaboration and cooperation, which appears to have been working in that direction.
The NIMASA, Director General, who could not hide his feelings was said to have told the industry stakeholders at the meeting that the ongoing review of the working conditions of the country’s seafarers by the NJIC, has become necessary because ‘‘ it has come at a time when they are in the process of reviewing both the NIMASA Act and Merchant Shipping Act’’. He was said to have hinted that the review of the seafarers working condition will depend on the outcomes of the ongoing tripartite Negotiations by the NJIC expected to be inputted into both Amendments to ensure that ‘’they are binding’’.
According to him, the importance of the industry stakeholders at the tripartite meeting was determined by’ ‘the need for adequate compensation, remuneration and workplace conditions for the Nigeria seafarers who were said to have been marginalized over the years by foreign shipping Lines including the NLNG.
Appealing to employers of Labour ‘’to ensure responsible conditions of service guiding seafarers employment’’, Jamoh stressed that ‘‘this is in line with global best practices’’. Recall that NIMASA, officials, had previously led Negotiations alongside the Maritime Workers of Nigeria, MWUN, and other relevant stakeholders ‘’to increase dockworkers wages and entitlements through the Collective Bargaining Agreement , CBA, initiative in 2018, when Dakuku Peterside, the Rivers state born politician and political ally of Rotimi Amaechi, a former governor of Rivers state and immediate past of Transportation was still at the helms of affairs at the agency. The CB, was said to have resulted in the improved working conditions for Nigerian dockworkers.
Victor Ochei, an Engineer, and the Maritime Regulatory Agency Executive Director, Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services may have taken advantage of the platform provided by the tripartite meeting of the industry stakeholders for review of seafarers welfare to speak out. Ochei, who according to Osagie Edward, an Assistant Director and he agency spokesperson who also serves as the Chairman of the NJIC, in his speech had laid emphasizes on ‘’the benefits of the ongoing review of the Nigerian Maritime sector as a whole to the country’’.
Hear him:A review of the CBA, this time around is needed for improved wages and living standards for seafarers operating in Nigerian territorial waters, and who are undoubtedly an ‘’integral part of the nation’s maritime sector’’.