The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has commenced a week-long training of inspectors in line with the provisions of the ILO’s Maritime Labour Convention (MLC 2006). The Maritime Labour Convention of the International Labour Organization 2006 is a convention that focuses on human element onboard local and international vessels. The convention entered into force globally on August 20th 2013 and will become effectively operational in Nigeria by the 18th of this month.
Nigeria after ratifying the Convention, submitted the instrument of ratification to ILO in Geneva, Switzerland on June 18th, 2013. Since then, it has engaged in a series of activities to ensure proper implementation of the provisions of the convention on her territorial waters.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the training programme, the Director-General of the Agency, Mr. Ziakede Patrick Akpobolekemi, said the MLC 2006 was a product of the fusing of over 65 instruments into one instrument which therefore imposes the challenge of understanding the complexity of the fundamental and social rights as they apply to seafarers in a globalised shipping sector.
According to the NIMASA DG, who spoke through the Executive Director Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services, Barr. Callistus Obi Nwabueze, though some of the provisions of the Convention already exist in the NIMASA Act and the Merchant Shipping Act, 2007, the innovations and the rights enshrined in the MLC 2006 convention makes adequate training of officers who are to implement the provisions of the convention in Nigeria imperative.
“The maritime labour inspectors training which takes off today is one of the key activities approved by the agency’s management in August, 2013 for implementation in compliance with ILO requirements for ratifying member states. It is also necessary so as to achieve the objectives of a uniform implementation of Flag State Inspection and to ensure ongoing compliance at Port State levels.
“The course is further aimed at adequately preparing officers who will eventually carry out onboard Port and Flag State inspections and to submit reports to MLS Department for certification and mandatory ILO report submissions. It also involves the training of staff of the relevant departments who need the basic knowledge and understanding of the convention to successfully carry out their duties,” Akpobolekemi said.
Trainees for the programme were drawn from the Maritime Labour Services Department and the Maritime Safety Department.
Speaking at the ceremony, the agency’s Executive Director, Maritime Safety and Shipping Development, Capt. Ezekiel Bala Agaba, said the officers were being trained to be able to perform their work efficiently and professionally in line with international standards. He said this was necessary in order not to embarrass the nation if they do the wrong things while onboard a foreign flagged vessel. He said if for instance, they wrongly detain a ship, it will become a big embarrassment to Nigeria if the flag state of the ship reacts and perhaps take the matter to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
He cautioned that the training which to be handled by both local and international experts was not the “normal jamboree” but a serious exercise only those who met the conditions would be issued certificates.
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