Maritime Sector: Seafarers’ Welfare Remains Priority – Transport Minister

The Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, has challenged ship-owners and other stakeholders in the Nigerian maritime industry to device creative means of improving the welfare of seafarers, while proffering permanent solutions to issues that affect their work.

Amaechi made the call in Lagos in his address at the 2021 Day of the Seafarer, with the theme, “Fair Future for Seafarers.” He praised seafarers in Nigeria and the world over for their huge contributions to global commerce and economy noting that seafarers contend with perils of the seas and sometimes put their lives on the line just to ensure that goods are safely delivered at designated ports. “This is one of the reasons we celebrate the seafarers every year.”

“As we celebrate the seafarers’ day, let us further identify and proffer workable solutions to the issues that will still be relevant to the seafarers after the pandemic, such as fair treatment, living and working conditions of the seafarers, etc.,” Amaechi told maritime stakeholders.

He highlighted the harrowing experiences seafarers endure in the course of their job, especially at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic last year.

“I am, however, glad to inform you that Nigeria, as a member state of the IMO, was one of the first countries to declare seafarers essential workers in order to ease their sufferings,” the Minister stated. He added, “The nation through the Federal Ministry of Transportation and its Agencies will continue to ensure that government policies are tailored towards improving the welfare and working conditions of the seafarers in line with international standard and statutory conventions.”

The minister reiterated the commitment of the Nigerian government to ensuring that the country’s maritime domain remained safe and secure for seafarers working on ships transiting through the waterways. He identified the Deep Blue Project launched by President Muhammadu Buhari on June 10 as a major effort by the government to curb the hazards of seafaring noting that Nigeria now has an anti-piracy law, the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act 2019, to prosecute maritime offenders.

For his part, the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh, who spoke in a similar vein in his welcome address, also called for reconsideration of the war risk insurance premium charged on cargo headed for the Gulf of Guinea.

He made the call while reacting to the response of the Lloyd’s List Intelligence, a specialist business information service dedicated to the global maritime community, with respect to his earlier call for review of the high insurance based on improved security conditions in the region.

“It is significant that critical stakeholders in the world shipping community, like Lloyd’s List, are recognising Nigeria’s efforts to make the Gulf of Guinea safe and secure for seafarers and ships,” the Director General said. “But it would be unfair for the world to sidestep such huge investment and commitment to maritime security and retain the high war risk insurance premium on ships bound for our waters.”

L-R: Executive Director, Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Victor Ochei; representative of Director, Maritime Safety and Security, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Imam Aminu; Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh; representative of the Minister of Transportation, Augustine Makama; Executive Director, Finance and Administration, NIMASA, Chudi Offodile; and Executive Director, Operations, NIMASA, Malam Shehu Ahmed, during the 2021 Day of the Seafarer in Lagos

He said continuing the war risk insurance would be a disservice to Nigeria and investors in the country’s maritime environment. “The poor masses of this country should not be made to pay for the actions of a few individuals bent on tarnishing Nigeria’s image.” He added.

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