The Port Consultative Council (PCC) has expressed worry over the global decline in the number of active seafarers, saying the trend portends threat to shipping sector development.
Chairperson of the ports’ foremost advisory body, Otunba Kunle Folarin, in an interactive session with reporters in Lagos, noted that although the development is a global issue, the Nigerian situation might have reached an alarming stage that requires urgent action.
He therefore urged the Federal Government to improve on training of officer cadre of seafarers to add value to Nigeria’s participation in international maritime trade.
Folarin admitted that the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) had embarked on training of seafarers through the National Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP), expressed the need for government to do more.
According to him, ‘when we talk of seafarers, you must think of the ratings, the junior ratings, you must also look at the officer cadre.“Definitely, all over the world today, the officer cadre is in short supply
“That is one of the areas you have to start looking in to adding value to Nigeria’s participation within the freighting, seafaring activity as it concern Nigerian- generated international trade. NIMASA has been doing this under the NSDP programme, while “private individuals also have been sponsoring themselves to become officers
The shipping expert however pointed out that aside from training, steps should be taken to ensure that the products are gainfully employed, as a way of sustaining their welfare.
“When you talk of welfare; it goes beyond just providing for their recreation; you must be able to sustain their well-being and that has to be employment. Employment generation within seafaring is key to their welfare and what we are doing now is to promote that particular opportunity.
“Nigerian indigenous companies must be encouraged to own ships. Therefore, where their opportunities for em¬ployment do not exist in foreign shipping company, the indigenous shipping company must be able to provide employment.
Such other opportunities, he stressed, also exists in tapping the potentials of the cabotage regime., saying, the implementation of the Cabotage law would promote many opportunities including seafarers’ employment and adequate welfare.
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