Even though the maritime security contract between the Federal Government and Global West Vessel Specialist Limited was terminated four years ago and replaced with a $195 million to an Israeli firm, HLSI Security Systems and Technologies Limited, fresh indications have emerged that about 400 seafarers were rendered jobless by the change.
In a chat with our correspondent, Secretary of the Merchant Navy Directorate, Capt Alfred Oniye said that the 400 seafarers should be reabsorbed to implement the $195 million security contract signed by the government to an Israeli firm, HLSI Security Systems and Technologies Limited at the instance of the Minister of Transportation, Hon Rotimi Amaechi.
Oniye alleged that some of the 400 seafarers that were laid off by Global West have now returned back to the creeks, perpetuating acts of piracy and sea piracy in order to survive.
He warned that the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) would be adding more to the problem of piracy if she is bringing in fresh people to operate and implement the HSLI security contract.
He said “Global West had 400 seafarers in its employment, after they closed down, do any body bother to ask where are the seafarers? Before Global West employed them, some of them were ex-militants, they were trained to be more professionals, so when I say that the militants or pirates are certified unemployed seafarers, I have my facts. These guys have now gone back to the creeks”
“NIMASA trained almost 3,000 seafarers (National Seafarers Development Programme, NSDP) how many have they given jobs to? 50% of those they trained are ex-militants, so you have trained them to be certified seafarers who are now unemployed”
“Do you know what it means to stay out of job for four months? Not to talk of years”
“You have thought them to be more professional in the job they do and now they are back. If you look at most of the attacks at sea, it is more professional now, they don’t strike the way they strike before, they now strike professionally, it takes a professional navigator to know the position of the vessel and know where to enter, you can plot your chat and your radar here and you would know what is happening at sea”
Capt Oniye argued that maritime crimes are bring committed by maritime professionals, and that it takes an expert in the country to know how to operate illegally and successfully.
He urged NIMASA to get the unemployed seafarers engaged, reiterating that they should be the ones NIMASA should be training.
“They should not bring in fresh people, they should get the existing unemployed seafarers and train them to do the security job, some of them are already exposed to ammunition and the security of the waters, you cannot take it away from them, our insecurity is in-house, so the best way to tackle the crime is to make use of the same people who are committing the crime” he said