To enjoy a safer future deserving of them as essential workers with specialised contributions to national development, the Federal Government must urgently create a separate pension scheme for seafarers to cater for their life after retirement, stakeholders in the maritime industry have said.
According to them, the current pension scheme as applied in the industry is not favourable to seafarers, who no doubt, render invaluable services often at great personal cost to themselves but with positive impact on the economy.
They made these submissions during the 2021 Day of the Seafarers’ event organised by Ocean Deep Services Limited in conjunction with LTT Coastal and Marine Services Limited in Lagos with the theme, ‘Fair Future for Seafarers’.
Rollens Macfoy, executive director, Ocean Deep Services Limited, said the celebration of the Seafarers Day provides an opportunity for awareness of the roles they play as major contributors to the national economy.
She pointed out the need for a harmonised maritime labour union to push the demands and aspirations of seafarers, adding that if seafarers were to down tools for a day or week, the whole economy will be affected.
“Seafarers are special people because the trade and economic growth of Nigeria depend on their specialised contribution,” she said.
She, alongside other speakers at the event, urged ship-owners to offer competitive remunerations and welfare packages to seamen and invest funds to sustain full sponsored training, development of officers and travel support for seafarers.
Macfoy urged NIMASA not to relent in training the seafarers as well as policing the nation’s territorial waters for the safety of ships and their crew.
Theodora Nwaeze, head, human resources, LTT Coastal and Marine Services Limited, said that in order to achieve a safer future for seafarers, there is the need to ensure wage harmonisation, better welfare package, and to eradicate gender bias in the industry.
Nwaeze pointed out that efforts need to be put in place to tackle practices and policies undermining the growth and development of female seafarers.
She advocated for policies that will guarantee certificate security and curb the proliferation of fake certificates streaming into the industry, adding that this can be done through group training.
Recall that the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) earmarked June 25 of every year as the international ‘Day of the Seafarer’. This was based on IMO’s recognition of the invaluable contributions of seafarers to moving international trade and the world economy, often at great personal cost to themselves and their families.
The Day of the Seafarer provides an opportunity to pay tribute to millions of seafarers for their unique contributions to the well-being of the society at large. It is also an opportunity to educate the public about issues facing the modern day seafarer, such as piracy, criminalisation and even Covid-19 pandemic.