• Saturday, July 20, 2024
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Seafarers are the lifeblood of maritime industry – Oyetola

Seafarers are the lifeblood of maritime industry – Oyetola

Adegboyega Oyetola, minister of Marine and Blue Economy, has said that seafarers are the lifeblood of the maritime industry, which is essential to the success of the Blue Economy.

This comes as Dayo Mobereola, director general of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), said Nigeria has the potential to be a maritime powerhouse, with the right policies in place.

The Minister, who disclosed this in Lagos during the commemoration of the 2024 Day of the Seafarer, assured that the Federal Government is committed to the development of the Nigerian maritime sector.

He said that the theme for this year’s celebration; ‘Navigating the Future, Safety First,’ aligns with the vision of the Ministry of the Marine and Blue Economy.

“Seafarers are the lifeblood of the maritime industry. They endure the isolation of the open sea, the unpredictability of weather, and the myriad of challenges that come with navigating some of the world’s busiest and most perilous waters. Their resilience, dedication, and unwavering commitment ensure that goods and resources reach every corner of our planet, supporting livelihoods and promoting international trade,” he said.

The minister who was represented by Babatunde Bombata, director of Maritime Safety and Security in the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy, gave the assurance that the Federal Government remains committed to collaborating with industry stakeholders and steadfast in advocating for the rights and welfare of Nigerian seafarers.

Read also: Why Nigerian seafarers fail to secure jobs onboard foreign ships

“We are committed to providing comprehensive training programmes, enforcing stringent safety regulations, and offering continuous support to ensure our seafarers are among the best trained and most resilient in the world. We are dedicated to building on this foundation, ensuring that Nigerian seafarers are equipped to meet the challenges and opportunities of the modern maritime landscape,” he said.

He pledged the Ministry’s resolve to prioritise the growth and development of the Marine and Blue Economy Sector, adding that its development of the sector will greatly benefit all Nigerians and future generations.

“We are working closely with stakeholders in the private sector, international organisations, and other government agencies to create an enabling environment for the growth of the Maritime and Blue Economy”, he said.

He also used the opportunity to call for stakeholders’ support in the development of the sector, noting that the Ministry cannot undertake the task alone.

“This celebration of World Seafarers Day presents a unique opportunity to explore emerging issues and propose innovative solutions to the challenges facing the sector. We must remain resolute and deliberate in promoting the growth and development of the Marine and Blue Economy Sector, as the Ministry cannot achieve this alone,” he said.

On their part, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration, along with his counterpart in the House of Representatives, applauded the seafarers for their resilience and assured them of the Government’s continuous support to guarantee their well-being.

They assured of the readiness of the National Assembly to work with NIMASA and other stakeholders to support any legislation aimed at advancing the rights and safety of all seafarers.

“Together, let us continue to strive for a maritime world that is equitable and inclusive for all,” Wasiu Eshinlokun, the senator said.

Dayo Mobereola, director general of NIMASA, acknowledged the uniqueness of the profession and the challenges faced.

He said the theme of the celebration is a call to address the challenging conditions seafarers face while navigating the sea. He emphasized the need for greater focus on their well-being and safety at sea.

“We recognise the humongous challenges Seafarers face while sailing; ranging from piracy, kidnapping, encounter at war zones exposure to health risks and unfair treatment. Nigeria has recorded zero piracy incidents in the last two years; we will not rest on our oars as the life of every seafarer matters,” Mobereola said.

He assured that the Agency will continue to collaborate with both local and international organizations to address global issues affecting seafarers and ensure their safety while navigating the future.

Mobereola said the Agency is working tirelessly to strengthen its legal frameworks by domesticating all Maritime Labour-related ILO Conventions ratified by Nigeria.

“These conventions include the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) 2006 as amended, the Seafarers Identity Document (SID) Convention as amended, and the Dock Work Convention.

“We will continue to focus on implementing programs and projects to improve seafarers welfare, including mental health support, safety training, and emergency assistance. We will continue to eliminate substandard vessels from our waters and ensure wrecks are removed to aid navigation and safety for our seafarers,” he assured.

Katie Higginbottom from the International Transport Federation (ITF), who joined virtually, emphasised that seafarers are a critical part of the maritime sector.

She also commended NIMASA’s renewed collaboration with the ITF to ensure seafarers receive the necessary attention from their respective governments.