The National President of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Prince Olayiwola Shittu, has called for a collaboration between Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN),Oron, to give cadets of the institution necessary and mandatory sea-time training.
Shittu said over 5,000 cadets of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN),Oron in Akwa Ibom State lack the mandatory sea- time training.
He however advised the government to pay more attention to the seafarers so that they can compete favourably with their counterparts elsewhere and prevent piracy and sea robbery on the nation’s territorial waters.
Shittu, identified that the re-establishment of a national carrier and the revival of the business of indigenous ship owners would help in solving the challenges of lack of sea-time training for the cadets.
He urged the Federal Government to use the accumulating Cabotage Vessel Financing Funds (CVFF) to acquire vessels for indigenous ship owners who could then be mandated to use the vessels to train the cadets.
The CVFF fund is domiciled in NIMASA and is worth billions of Naira, a situation that has made stakeholders to call for the use of the money for the benefit of indigenous shipping firms.
Shittu said since the IMO had directed that the single hull vessels be phased out by next year, the Federal Government should direct NIMASA to inject the CVFF funds into the sector to assist vessels that will train the cadets and fly the nation’s flag.
He said more jobs would be created for seafarers if NIMASA released the money for the purpose it was meant.
The ANLCA chief said that by next year, Nigerian ship owners would not qualify to operate on international waters and create jobs for the cadets unless they have double hull tankers.
According to him, “It is disheartening that more than 10 years after the Cabotage Act was passed into law, the welfare of seafarers are even worse than pre-Cabotage regime. Up till now, foreign vessels still traverse and dominate our waters unchecked.”
He said that the story may not change unless the indigenous ship owners are assisted with the CVF funds to own ships that can engage in international trade, and then, make it easy to put cadets on board ships.
“By 2015, it is only if Nigerian ship owners have double hull tankers that they will be able to qualify to operate on international waters and thereby create jobs for more seafarers.
“Shipping relies heavily on the initiative, cooperation and constant vigilance of seafarers to help prevent breaches of maritime security and without their support and whole-hearted commitment, the security measure the ISPS code intends to put in place may be jeopadised.”
However, the Director-General of NIMASA, Mr Patrick Akpobolo-kemi, said the agency would review condition of service for seafarers.