By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has said that it was able to place a total of 7,414 seafarers onboard vessels trading within Nigerian coastal waters in year 2019 alone.
Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside stated this at the weekend during a press conference.
He however warned that Nigerian dockworkers might lose their jobs if they fail to embrace automation like the rest of the world. Peterside hammered on the need to get Nigerian dockworkers trained.
According to him, most of the jobs being carried out at the port by dockworkers all over the world are now being automated and Nigerian dockworkers cannot be an exemption.
He said “We have been able to place 7,414 seafarers onboard vessels trading within our coastal waters. In January last year year we placed 907 persons against 185 that was placed earlier”
“In 2018, we were able to place 4,235 persons, but by 2019 we placed 7, 414 doubling the number. If anybody says that this is not a substantial contribution to employment generation then I don’t know what is substantial again”
“In terms of dockworkers employment and training, there is a transition now, most work done by dockworkers are being automated, so we need to prepare them for a new regime where everything is being automated, if not, all of them would lose their job”
“Part of the import of what we are doing is that in 2018 we had 18 stevedoring companies registered, but in 2019 it increased to 20” he said
Peterside assured that NIMASA is working closely with the stevedoring companies on the implementation of Maritime Labour Convention (MLC 2006) saying that Nigerian dockworkers and seafarers welfare have been improved.
According to the NIMASA DG, the agency last year facilitated the signing of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) for seafarers which automatically ensured that shipowners increase salaries of their crew.
He said that same agreement had been signed with terminal operators and stevedoring companies to increase dockworkers wages under the National Joint Industrial Labor (NJIC)
Speaking on the National Seafarers Development Program (NSDP) which NIMASA was using to train seafarers, he said a total of 2, 041 students were sent to various centres of learning around the world.
He however lamented that the challenge has been getting a sea time for the cadets.
Peterside said in 2019, NIMASA was able to place 413 persons onboard oceangoing vessels doing their sea term.
He said “Before now it was 219 under the NSDP. Now we also have 300 former NSDP cadets now working onboard oceangoing vessels”