Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Starzs Investment Company Limited, Mr. Greg Ogbeifun, has said that shipping companies should partake in the responsibility of training seafarers.
Ogbeifun said that the government should not solely bear the responsibility of training seafarers, noting that the benefit of capacity development of seafarers is enjoyed most by the shipping companies.
He said: “If I own a ship and I want the best people to work for my ship, I should contribute or I should be responsible for producing those seafarers by training them. I think that mindset is coming from my own background. I’m a marine engineer and I was trained by Shell Tankers UK for Shell BP. As a cadet then, Shell, the tanker owners, were responsible for your schooling – books, fees, everything about you … they paid you allowances. You started as a cadet, and you rose, sometime, to Chief Engineer or Captain, working for them. So, I am still trying to get my head round this system where the government has to train somebody to come and work for me and bring commercial benefit to me and I make no contribution to it.”
Ogbeifun, who spoke at an industry event in Cape Town, South Africa, reiterated that Nigerian shipowners should be made to take on a greater responsibility of training cadets while the government plays a contributory role to this capacity development.
“What does it take to train a cadet? It’s really not that much. But let that cadet be the responsibility of the shipowners and the government can just contribute to it. That’s what is done in our days and until we start to do that you find that government, through the likes of NIMASA, on its own will continuously carry this burden,” he said.
Considering that sometimes, after their training, seafarers leave to work for foreign shipping companies, Ogbeifun justified this move with assertion that Nigeria’s cabotage regime is unable to meet their needs as seafarers noting that with an approach of collaboration between the government and shipowners in the training of seafarers, there will be a win-win situation for parties involved.
He said: “It’s something that we have to get our heads on. We have the fleet here like they have in South Africa. You engage the shipowners and say: ‘listen, these people are going to work for you. Let us collaborate to train them together. You have a role in it and we have a role in it as government’. And you will find out that people are going to settle. From my experience, we found that the cadets we trained are the best officers we have. So at the end of the day, you the shipowner will benefit from the training programme.”
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