Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dakuku Peterside, on Saturday said that the agency had taken steps to domesticate the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) 2006 in order to protect Nigerian seafarers.
Peterside stated this in a message to the celebration of Seafarers Day with a Theme “At Sea For All” held in Lagos.
Peterside was represented by the Director of Administration and Human Resources in NIMASA, Ibrahim Jubril.
He said that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in 2006 came up with the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 otherwise known as the Seafarers’ Bill of Right which Nigeria had ratified.
According to him, for the convention, every seafarer had a right to a safe and secured workplace that complies with safety standards.
The director-general added that seafarers had the right to fair terms of employment.
He said that the agency realised the employment opportunities in seafaring as a result of the dearth of seafarers globally, adding that this was what made the agency to introduce the National Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP).
Peterside said that the programme was established to afford Nigerians adequate training and proper certification to be engaged in seafaring on board vessels irrespective of flag.
He said that the NSDP, an intervention of government, was a way of making Nigeria a major supplier of seafarers like the Chinese, India and Filipinos in contributing to Nigerian economic growth.
“The agency is presently inundated with cases of employers refusing to pay seafarers’ salaries and allowances legitimately earned by them.
“Today will be the beginning of better days for seafarers when their employers and other stakeholders will begin to take seriously issues bordering on their safety, welfare, health and working environment,” Peterside said.
Also speaking, the Director, Maritime Labour Services of NIMASA, Mrs Juliana Gunwa, said that the ILO adopted by the 94th Session of the International Labour Conference in Geneva Switzerland.
Gunwa said that the convention was a product of the consolidation of over 68 of the old seafarers related Maritime Labour Conventions and recommendation.
She explained that what made the ILO different from MLC was the current structure and amendment which was to create a level playing field for government, ship owners and seafarers.
“For example to a seafarer, it will be a Bill of Right for a decent work and to government it will provide for effective implementation at all levels.
“The aim of the convention is to ensure a decent work for seafarers through a uniform and effective implementation by ILO member states that ratified the instruction.
“The importance of the convention is that compliance and enforcement regime through ports and flag states inspection regime,” Gunwa said.
She said that the convention was the fourth pillar of the International Maritime standards and complements the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
Gunwa said that in spite of successes recorded by the agency, NIMASA was currently developing strategies to address effective enforcement to ensure seafarers received their wages as and when due.
She said that there was need for companies to present their vessels for inspection and certification in line with the provision of the convention.
Also speaking, Capt. Thomas Kemewerigha urged NIMASA to critically enforce the MLC convention, adding that the convention had advocated better working and living conditions for all seafarers, as well as equal work and equal pay.
Kemewerigha said that since 2011, June 25 of every year had been celebrated globally as the Day of Seafarers.
He said that the recognition was based on the unique contribution made by seafarers to international sea borne trade to the world economy and to the society as a whole.
“Seafarers, as professionals, require technical skills, based on the operational nature of the vessel,” Kemewerigha said.
He said that Nigeria was blessed with the largest coast line in West and Central Africa, adding that seafarers today were in hopeless situation.
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