The Alumni of Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron (AMANO) has called on the Federal Government to bridge the manpower gap in the maritime industry by providing training vessels for cadets which will qualify them for Certificate of Competence with which they can work on board vessels.
President of AMANO, Austin Ume Zurike who stated this in Lagos on Friday at the second National Convention of the association with the theme ‘Achieving the Maritime Industry of our Dream’, said lack of sea time training had been a major challenge for the academy over the years.
He expressed concern over the development which he said had made Nigerian ship owners opted for foreign seafarers in place of local seafarers to work on board their ships.
“Our cadets when they come back from school are not able to proceed further because of lack of training opportunity. That problem has caused huge manpower inadequacy in the industry. We have had cases where Nigerian ship owners do not want to employ Nigeria crew because of lack of proper training.
“The ships are not available for them to do their sea time and where there are vessels, it is quite expensive for them to afford it. So a training vessel is required from the government or the industry to provide training opportunities for the cadets so that they can proceed with sea career.
“If you are not properly trained, then you won’t be able to function properly as a qualified and well trained seafarer. A lot of the ships in our oil and gas industry are foreign owned. So when you owned vessel, you want to ensure you have the right people to man it. Even though we have the cabotage restriction, there are lots of waivers and the ship owners themselves insist on having foreigners man their vessel,” he said.
Ume Zurike said while the academy had reduced the number of admitted cadets to address the problem, there is however need for government to understand the importance of shipping development to the nation’s economy to fully address the challenge.
According to him, “Lack of recognition of the challenge by government is a big problem on its own. There is need for government to recognise the important of this challenge in order to look for solution to stem it.”
Ume Uzurike also lamented the chaotic situation of the Apapa gridlock which he described as a reflection of the current state of the maritime industry adding that the incessant report of pirates’ activities on the nation’s waterways as made the Gulf of Guinea world piracy capital as vessels coming to Nigeria now demand huge insurance premium.
He advised the Government to open up other seaports in the South East and South South region of the country to address the perennial gridlock at Apapa and Tin Can port access roads.
In his remarks, Assistant Director, Safety, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Engr. Ekong Umotong, who represented the Director-General, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, emphasized the importance of maritime education to the repositioning of the industry and the nation’s economy.
He pledged that NIMASA would continue to support the academy to improve its status by ensuring timely remittance of the statutory allocations, acquisition of equipment, simulators, teaching aids and sourcing of qualified professionals as lecturers amongst others.