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Abuja MOU: 2021, a year of Action for Seafarers

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Innocent Orok

Captain Sunday Umoren

The Secretary General of Abuja, MOU, Captain Sunday Umoren has said that the year 2021 is a year of action for Seafarers as declared by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). Captain Umoren made this known during his goodwill message at this year’s World Maritime day celebrations, held on Thursday in Lagos.

The Abuja, MOU Scribe said Seafarers has continued to face the storm of life in a bid to keep international trade rolling and will remain important so far the words, trade, goods, importations, tokumbo remains in the dictionary.

According to him “IMO has chosen to make 2021 a year of action for seafarers, who constantly are facing the storms of life in the bid to keep international trade rolling and thus sustaining globalisation and improved life-style for us all. This group of Ladies and gentlemen both acknowledged in the Bible and the Holy Koran give their all for us, some directly and others indirectly, in their pursuits and often rolling, pitching heaving, swaying with the motions of the ships in consonance with the waveform and the dictate of the winds including storms, hurricanes and typhoons. Most of them come out alive and some pay the ultimate sacrifice with their lives.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, this rare breed that are exposed to the elements at sea and the storms of life are also in recent time facing unprecedented hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sadly, despite their vital role as key workers for global supply chains they are often not known or appreciated.

The World Maritime Theme for 2021, “Seafarers: at the core of shipping future” seeks to increase the visibility of seafarers by drawing attention to the invaluable roles they play now and will continue to play in the future. Many are rumouring that the onset of Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships – MASS (with the drive for Increased automation on-board ships, which ranges from partial and semi automation to ultimately full autonomy or ships becoming remotely controlled and unmanned) may spell their doom.

” BUT THEY ARE SO SO SO SO WRONG . Recall, that the issue of autonomous navigation of ships is not new and has been on the table since 1964 but we all know that SEAFARERS will remain relevant so long as words like TRADE, GOODS, IMPORTATIONS, WHOLESALE and TOKUMBO remain in the dictionary.
The focus on seafarers really increased during COVID-19 pandemic which further placed extraordinary demands on seafarers with respect to crew changes, with hundreds of thousands of men and women stranded on ships for months beyond their original contracts, unable to be repatriated due to national travel restrictions.

“Equally a similar number of seafarers were / are unable to join ships and earn a living. This crew change crisis was seen as a major crisis and has been ongoing for nearly a year with IMO and ILO declaring it ‘a humanitarian emergency’ that threatens the safety and sustenance of shipping.”

Captain Umoren however thanked the Transportation Minister, Rotimi Amaechi and the Director General of NIMASA, Dr Bashir Jamoh and other relevant stakeholders for joining the world to care for the Seafarers.

“Thank you the Hon Minister, the DG of NIMASA and all relevant stakeholders in Nigeria for joining the world to care for seafarers in declaring them key workers and in supporting seafarers and companies in managing the crises.
In consonance with MLC 2006, Throughout the week, the World Maritime Theme has put the spotlight on other issues related to the human element of shipping, including the safety and security of life on board ships, seafarers’ well-being, and the importance of ensuring an appropriately trained and qualified workforce, ready to meet the challenges and opportunities of digitalization and automation.

“In closing, the Chairman and the organisers, may I bring your minds to the recent updated circular from IMO dated 30 April 2021) – Circular Letter No.4403 captioned – (Illumination of the IMO building and other emblematic landmarks to mark World Maritime Day on 30 September 2021 ).

“The Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization reemphasised the new initiative to promote each year’s World Maritime DAY with the IMO building adorned with special blue colour. Thus IMO intends to light up the IMO building, in particular the Seafarer Memorial, in IMO/maritime blue colour on every World Maritime Day going forward. The SG extended the invitation to IMO Member States, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations in consultative status to join in this annual initiative by lighting up their most iconic buildings, bridges, maritime ports, ships, monuments, museums and other emblematic landmarks on World Maritime Day each year. The participation of social media is also encouraged through using the hashtags #WorldMaritimeDay.

“Dear all, recall that Seafarers Memorial is mentioned and this brings to memory the worst International maritime disaster in Nigeria when we lost the MV GUARARA in 1987 where several crew died off the coast of Portugal.

“Dear all, let us all use this time to create anew and to revisit some of the actions carried out by the Maritime stakeholders in past years; and let the week also serve as a platform to set perspectives for the future.

Umoren also urged stakeholders to rather keep on complaining about the quality of Seafarers, but to support maritime training institutions in the training of Seafarers.

“May I respectfully prick your conscience with this line – ‘you keep complaining about the quality of Nigerian Seafarers’, have you in any way and measure supported any Maritime Training Institute (MTIs) in the training of our seafarers? This is a moral obligation noting that the MTIs are the mothers that birth seafarers!!!”.

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