The High Commission of India in Nigeria says it is perfecting plans to partners with Mission To Seafarers (MTS) Lagos, particularly in the area of training Nigerian seafarers and expanding trade relations between both countries.
Speaking at the MTS Lagos 2021 Symposium tagged, ‘Maritime Industry and Development of Nigeria – Connecting with Our Heritage,’ held in Lagos last week, Abhay Thakur, Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria, said India is ready to provide the needed support to Nigerian seafarers.
Thakur, who was represented by Rachit Rawat, head of chancery at the Commission, promised that India will support Nigerian seafarers in areas of training, facility provision and other logistics as a major maritime player in the global maritime industry.
Adebayo Sarumi, chairman of MTS Lagos, who described seafarers as the center of global economic development, said failure of many nations to classify seafarers as essential workers during the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, resulted in negative economic performance.
According to Sarumi, seafarers drive global trade, deliver service within the shipping industry, and they are also at the heart of the world economic growth.
“These individuals, even though they are extremely essential workers in the entire world, are not treated with the amount of respect, consideration and care that should go to such people, who keep the entire world economy running,” said Sarumi
“We have to look into the welfare of seafarers. Seafarers are the people who work on ships, and they carry trade round the whole world. Thus, the need to give deserving attention to the plight of seafarers,” he said.
Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Lagos State Governor, who spoke on the theme, ‘Maritime Industry as a Strategic Driver for Regional and National Economic Development,’ said the state will synergise with all stakeholders in the maritime sector to generate wealth and employment for the benefit of Lagos youths and the country at large.
“There is urgent need for us as a government to address the needs and challenges of developing a virile maritime sector that will boost socio-economic growth and development for the benefit of our people, and countries that are landlocked,” said Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by Frederic Oladeinde, commissioner for transportation.
According to him, Lagos accounts for a substantial portion of the maritime industry in Nigeria and the ECOWAS sub-region, which is largely surrounded by water.
“The maritime industry is a veritable wealth generation and job creation platform that has continued to benefit many people among many other available and emerging opportunities,” he said.
On his part, Rotimi Akeredolu, the governor of Ondo State, said the maritime sector which plays a critical role in economic development, has not been given the needed attention.
Represented by Oladunni Odu, the secretary to the state government, Akeredolu said government must give attention to the development of the maritime industry, in order to ensure effective ships and cargo operations that would promote regional economic growth.
“Ondo State is willing to take the lead role in developing the maritime industry with the establishment of ‘Port Ondo’, a deep seaport project of the state government, which is geared to driving maritime development and support activities ongoing at Apapa and Tin-Can Ports,” Governor Akeredolu said.
Speaking on the importance of seafarers to economic development, Andrew Rights, the secretary-general of MTS International, said seafarers are the heart of the world economic growth.
Rights, who spoke from London via Zoom, said if seafarers should down tools for a week or two, the outcomes on the global economy are better imagined.
“One of the greatest scandals of our time has been the refusal of many countries to see seafarers as essential workers. This is made exceptionally difficult during the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic,” he pointed out.