The Nigerian Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, has called for fair treatment as well as better living and working conditions for seafarers.
The Minister made the call at the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) 2021 Day of the Seafarer in Lagos State on Friday.
The Deputy Director, Maritime and Safety, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Mr Austin Makama, represented Amaechi at the event, with the theme, “Fair Future for Seafarers”.
The minister said that seafarers were exposed to many challenges during the pandemic.
He said they made personal sacrifices at the peak of the pandemic, especially with the lockdown and movement restrictions in most countries across the globe.
The minister said: “Most seafarers could not see their families for months as a result of the inability of shipping companies to affect crew changes due to the lockdown and restrictions.
“Most seafarers that were sick lacked easy access to medicare yet UN declared them essential workers and urged nations of the world to treat them as such.
“Yet the seafarers were the ones making sure those medical supplies and other essentials got to their destinations.
“So there is need to proffer these solutions for them.”
Amaechi said that Nigeria as a member-state of International Maritime Organisation was one of the first countries to declare seafarers as essential workers in order to ease their sufferings.
He reiterated government’s commitment toward ensuring that the maritime domain is safe and secure for seafarers working on ships transiting through the Nigerian waterways.
He said this explained why President Muhamnadu Buhari launched the Deep Blue Sea Project “to help combat maritime criminalities that threaten the security of crew members.
“And Nigeria now has an Anti-Piracy Law to prosecute offenders,” the minister said.
The Director-General of NIMASA, Dr Bashir Jamoh, said Nigeria was not at war, hence should not be charged the War Risk Premium.
Jamoh said, “Nigeria is a populous nation boasting of no fewer than 200 million people.
“Therefore, the activities of a few young people, who are not up to 1000, should not be used as a bar to rate the country as one of the most dangerous waters to do business.
“We are working round the clock to change that narrative.
“The poor masses on the streets should not be made to pay the price for very few individuals that decided to pelt the integrity of this great nation,” he said.
He also spoke on the personal sacrifices made by seafarers during the COVID-19 lockdown.
According to him, they decided to take their lives in their hands and move around the world to deliver medicines.
He said that the agency had trained at least 2500 personss in fulfilment of its human capital development agenda.
“Today, the National Seafarers Development Program is no longer a thing of legacy by those who introduced the programme because it has become a thing of heritage to NIMASA.
“NIMASA has become known for its welfare obligations to seafarers.”