Mrs Mary Hamman is the President of Women International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA) in Nigeria. She works in the Shipping Development Unit of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
Hamman who was elected President last year spoke with Oluwatoyin Amao on her achievements so far.
What is the idea behind WISTA
The idea behind WISTA is to promote women in the industry because the industry is male dominated and for the women voices to be heard, we need to find a way of coming together, empower one another and encourage each other not to relent because some women get discouraged and that will make them want to quit the profession. WISTA is created by some women in shipping in the United Kingdom (UK) and the reason for the creation is that at tea break, they felt left out at the discussion that was on going at the conference they attended. It started in 1974 in the UK but Nigeria was able to key into it in 1994. Another idea is to make women prominent in the shipping industry, for them to be able to participate without fear of being left out in the profession.
What are you doing to bring more women into shipping?
We organize lectures, invite the public and annual business luncheons and we make it public for women in the industry to come and attend to hear what we want to say. We create opportunities for training also for young ones in the industry that have no voice or nobody can support them; we train some cadets and assist them especially in MAN Oron where we produced the best female cadet officer and we look for IT placement for young girls.
WISTA sponsored two ladies to Regional Academy Maritime, Ghana; they did some courses at the academy and both got employment into NIMASA. There are students from Shipping Institute of Nigeria who have been coming to listen to our lectures and what the organisation is all about. They are aspiring to be like us; we are open to the all women who want to develop career in the maritime industry. Some women come to us for sponsorship to further their studies abroad; we try to encourage the young ones to get their acts right in the industry.
What does it entail to enrol into WISTA
WISTA is basically for women in the management position in the industry but we do not want it limited that is why we involve all women in shipping and trading including women in logistics, transportation and fisheries.
How can the government create more job opportunities and earn more revenue from maritime
The government should develop the maritime institutions like NITT, MAN Oron to international standards for training where professors from international universities can come on sabbatical leave to train our people to raise the standard of education in the country.
Federal and State governments and the Organised Private Sector can come together for JVA, Deep Sea ports, jetties, dry ports, ferry services where people can be employed; promotion of non-oil export like agriculture and solid minerals; local shipowners should be encouraged to participate in crude oil lifting and auxiliary maritime services and having national fleets where our seafarers can be employed and our goods exported at a standard rate; NNPC to change their marketing policies of FOB/CIF.
How can Nigeria port be the hub of the sub-region and stop the cargo diversion
Deregulation of operations will attract foreign terminal operators with modern cargo handling equipment; the Federal government should create an international level playing field for both indigenous and foreign firms to operate side by side in our ports; port services/levies should be reduced to attract more shippers patronizing our ports.
The revenue from importation is low due to the current foreign exchange rate. What can government do about it?
There should be regional competition among ECOWAS Ports, this will bring out the best for the country; promotion of local content in production of tools used in the oil fields/maritime activities; the ports should be linked to rail services and create an avenue for international system of transportation to incorporate the hinterlands to global commerce in collaboration with states; the federal government should have its own national fleets and the federal government should institutionalize appropriate monitoring mechanism to ensure accurate generation and collection of all revenue accruable to them.
What has WISTA achieved over the years since inception?
WISTA have brought confidence to the women in the industry, they are up to standard to face the men in the profession by competing with them in the profession because women are in strategic positions in the industry. Most of the women in this profession head companies, are ship owner like Vicky Haastrup , Margeret Orakwusi etc. The lives of the women in the Riverine area have been touched by our group; we empowered women in the Epe area that are into fishing. Engine boat and fishing net was bought for them and they are doing very well and also they are always invited to WISTA functions, giving testimonies of what they can do for themselves. Also, the women in fishing at Oron community have been empowered by us through getting a cold room and where the left over fishes that were not sold are kept. Rooms have been given to women to always come to WISTA when they are in problem and they are properly counseled.
What are your achievement and challenges since you assumed office?
I and my executives came on board in November and we have been trying to assess our membership again by creating awareness about the executives to the women and by putting heads together on things to do to move the association forward by visiting institutions and planning on the agenda for the year. A lot is still needed to be done for achievement.
What are the programmes lined up for the rest of the year
The business luncheon coming up in October 20th, 2016; Annual General Meeting (AGM) taking place in Florida on board vessel for the first time in November from 8th – 13th, 2016 and that is where we network with the international branch of the group and 37 members will be attending this year’s conference.
When last was the account of the association audited
For Lagos branch, the account will be audited next year while at the international branch is audited whenever there is AGM meeting. The auditors among members of the group are the ones to do the auditing of the association account in Lagos branch.
Being a married woman, how do you combine the duty of being the President of WISTA, a civil servant with the role of a wife and mother
My loyalty goes to my family first, as a civil servant there are rooms for me to manoeuver i.e there are rooms to always apply for casual leave if there are pressing family issues and the role of president of WISTA is not a one-man show; there is a committee that I work with that cover up each positions if need be and also I have loving family that understands all my activities.
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