A Maritime expert, Retired Rear Adm. Godswill Ombo, on Monday said the security of the nation’s coastal line was paramount in protecting the economy.
Ombo spoke as the lead resource person at the 2017 International Seafarers Day marked in Lagos. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the theme is: “Seafarers Matter’’.
According to World Maritime University, International Day of the Seafarers was designated by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in 2010 as a way to recognize the contribution made by the world’s seafarers.
“Almost everything that we use and need in our daily lives is directly or indirectly affected by sea transport.
“Every June 25, we take a moment to express our thanks to the World’s 1,2 million seafarers for their contributions to the world economy and our economic and social well-being.
“Seafarers are essential to our daily lives transporting more than 80 per cent of global trade by ships to people and communities all over the world.’’
Ombo said, “The onus is on maritime security agencies to ensure that shippers (importers and exporters)’s wares and personnel on board vessels are protected.
“It will not be out of place if the security agencies team up to form a common front that will secure the waters.
“We need to get our priorities right in terms of cadets on board training; the training of our cadets outside the country poses integrity and national interest question on us.
“We keep complaining of lack of vessels to train the cadets on sea experience while there is a vessel abandoned at the Lagos Marina named `MV Hotten’, which can be sued for training,’’ Ombo said.
He urged the seafarers to adhere strictly to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Seafarers’ Code as their watchword.
According to him, such will guarantee them some security on board.
He called on the relevant agencies to do the needful and secure the vessel at the Lagos Marina for cadets sea experience training and save the nation the capital flight on foreign training.
In his remarks, the Director, Merchant Shipping Academy, Capt. Adams Alex, said that Nigerian seafarers were being maltreated on board, while their foreign counterparts were enjoying international packages.
Alex said that although, there was global recession, Nigerian seafarers were the worst-hit with many out of job, while those that have jobs were being under-paid.
“Contractual agreements with the companies employing seafarers ought to be reviewed to be in tandem with the IMO’s recognition,’’ the seafarer said.
He said that the situation where seafarers were left at the mercy of the employers should no longer be condoned in order to make the job attractive to the cadets.
Capt. Alfred Oniye, the Vice-Chairman, Zonal Shipping Council, urged the seafarers to conduct themselves well both on board and onshore.
Oniye said that this would earn the Nigerian seafarers the desired respect.
He said that the uniform of seafarers was an international one that could be won anywhere in the world.
“If we know the profession we are representing and neatly clad in the uniform, there is not going to be any clash with the Nigerian Navy over uniform,’’ Oniye said.
In his comments, Capt. Oluwasegun Akanbi, the Convener of the event, appealed to the management of the Seafarers Council to liaise with all relevant authorities in order to improve the living condition of Nigerian seafarers.