By Innocent Orok
The Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency ( NIMASA), Dr Bashir Jamoh has described Seafarers as true Champions and “invisible heroes” of humanity. Jamoh made the declaration at this year’s World Maritime day celebrations held on Thursday in Lagos State.
Jamoh said he uses the expression “invincible heroes” because when the whole world was shutdown by the pandemic, only the Seafarers remained in service, delivering essential items and replenishing supplies throughout the world . He said NIMASA on their part will continue to match in lock steps with the IMO on all Seafarers matters.
Jamoh goodwill message reads:
“If there is anything COVID-19 has confirmed it is this – Seafarers are the true champions of humanity. During last year’s Day of the Seafarer, I used the expression, The Invisible Heroes. For when the Pandemic shutdown and locked down the whole world, only the seafarers remained in service delivering critical life essentials from foods to drugs to vital equipment and replenishing our supplies.
“Little wonder the International Maritime Organization has remained consistent in focusing all the themes of the organization’s major events around these superstars. What would the world be without seafarers? They have always been the heart of shipping. And in my view seafarers will no doubt continue to remain at the Core of Shipping from past to present to future in line with this year’s theme of World Maritime Day.
“Today, as we join the rest of the world to mark World Maritime Day we salute the International Maritime Organization for keeping these brave men and women of the seas at the top of the global maritime agenda reminding all of us that we are nothing without them; we will ever be indebted to them for their sacrifices and contributions.
“NIMASA on our part has continued to march in lockstep with the IMO on all matters concerning seafarers since the outbreak of COVID-19. We were the first in declaring Seafarers as Essential Workers; we were also the first in the Continent to issue Marine Notice regarding Crew Change. We recognized that the COVID-19 pandemic had placed extraordinary demands on seafarers, 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. A similar number of seafarers were unable to join ships and earn a living. This crew change crisis was becoming a humanitarian emergency that threatened the safety of shipping, so we as a Maritime Administration acted accordingly.
“The World Maritime Theme also 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.
“On this special occasion, therefore, we have every reason to celebrate the seafarers for their contributions to Nigeria’s economy. We have every reason to celebrate the seafarers because they make life more meaningful to the individual citizens by playing a significant role in the delivery of essentials for our collective survival. Time will not permit me to mention the numerous contributions made by Seafarers to advance the course of nation-building and humanity, as we cannot thank them enough.
“The efforts of the agency in securing our maritime domain, especially with the Deep Blue Project and the SPOMO Act, are yielding results with the recently released IMB report for the 2nd Quarter of 2021 showing a drastic decline in incidences of attacks on our waters and in the Gulf of Guinea. Seafarers can do their jobs without fear of being attacked or kidnapped.
“Also is the recent official flag-off of the National wrecks removal exercise with the first phase along Badagry creeks from Tin-can Island to Navy town, is geared towards making our waterways safe and navigable for seafarers and vessels.
“Our role as a regulatory agency is to ensure that Nigerian Seafarers are treated fairly by the Ship-owners and employers through the implementation of approved conditions of service and agreed-on collective bargaining agreements. We shall continue to pay priority attention to the capacity development and employment of seafarers.
“The Agency has also initiated the Seafarers Identity Document (SID) registration portal, and other e-platforms for Dockworkers, and their Employers to ease the verification and registration process in line with international best practices while stakeholders have already been sensitized for its smooth take off.
“This address will not be complete if I fail to mention the harmonious working relationship that exists between the agency and the seafarers union which has translated into a peaceful and crisis-free maritime industry.
“Let me also use this occasion to salute the Ship-owners and employers of Seafarers for their support. I wish to congratulate all the Nigerian seafarers and also their counterparts onboard international vessels in our seaports, terminal, and jetties on this memory day focused on them.
“As I conclude my remarks, I wish to assure the Nigerian maritime community that our seafarers will continue to remain at the core of all our policy and decision-making in all matters of shipping. Please rise with me everybody and applaud these invisible heroes – our Seafarers.
” salute and celebrate you all. Happy World Maritime Day. Thank you”.