Nigerian Divers have blamed the underdeveloped state of the profession on unregulated practices and foreign dominance to the failure of the Ministry of Labour and Employment to establish a Diving Advisory Board in line with the nation’s 2018 Diving at Work Regulations.
Julius Ugwala, the chief diving inspector (elect), who stated this at the weekend in an interview with Maritime TV, frowned at the dominance of foreigners in the nation’s diving profession, leading to outsourcing the much-needed jobs to expatriates in place of Nigerians.
To harness the potentials in the sector, he said the nation would have to set up an Advisory Board as stipulated by existing regulations to oversee the activities of diving including safety, education, remuneration, and local content development.
“The government isn’t aware of the viability of the diving sector and how much it could contribute in terms of revenue for government and job opportunities for the youth. I think the practitioners in the country should take up the onus of convincing the government about the need to regulate the profession,” he said.
According to Ugwala, “Setting up Advisory board would see the diving profession becomes duly regulated in Nigeria. It would also encourage more people to pick a career in diving and experts would no longer have to travel out of the country to be trained.”
He disclosed that the diving sector had capacity to put an end to youth restiveness across Nigeria by catering for over 10 percent of the nation’s unemployment margin.
“The board would ensure proper regulation leading to the establishment of quality schools in the country to train professionals. This nation is facing a serious unemployment gap but this diving sector could reduce the margin of unemployment drastically by more than 10 percent,” he said.
He also decried the high mortality rate of divers in the nation, noting that unsafe practices had become the norm following the absence of a regulator.
He opined that the inauguration of an Advisory Board would bring uniformity to diving practice and guarantee safe operations, insurance for divers and appropriate remuneration to curb the paltry wages given to Nigerian divers unlike expatriates.
Today, he stated, there are places divers are unwilling to go to work due to high rate of kidnapping, targeted at not just expatriates but professionals that work for the International Oil Companies (IOCs).
“Divers are bound by regulation to take their original certificates offshore. When offshore with valuable certificates, divers get attacked by pirates and they lose their documents, which means they have to go to school again or reach out to the schools mostly abroad to get another certificates and can be very difficult and costly to get these documents back,” he said.