By DAPO OLAWUNI
There is a rising anxiety among Nigerian seafarers over the alleged refusal of indigenous shipowners to effect crew change onboard their vessels, even as the seafarers have called on the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to come up with a crew change directive.
In a chat with DAILY TREND NEWS, a frontline seafarer and spokesperson for Maritime Professionals Forum (MARPRO) Capt Segun Akanbi raised an alarm that due to the Coronavirus pandemic, crew change has been very difficult, he said a lot of seafarers are currently stuck onboard and fatigue is gradually setting in.
Capt Akanbi called on the Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh on look into the development, warning that fatigue and failure to effect crew changes could lead to marine accident.
According to him “International Oil Companies (IOC) implemented a compulsory isolation of 14days for incoming crew, this has been really helpful, but most of the indigenous companies do not want to go through the cost of isolating crew, but they need to understand that the few extra penny spent to effect a crew change would save them from bigger problems”
“It is time for NIMASA DG to come up with a crew change directive for the companies to prevent unforeseen consequences. Kudos to companies who are prompt enough to encourage their frontline crew with incentives and crew change process”
The MARPRO spokesman also stated that the group empathized with fellow seafarers who were tested positive, wishing them quick recovery, while advising that others should stay safe and observe all necessary precautions against covid 19.
Capt Akanbi told our correspondent that the Governor of Rivers State, Gov Nyesom Wike is not helping matters on issue of evacuating seafarers onboard.
He alleged that the Governor had arrested and detained two Helicopter pilots on Wednesday because they flew some crew into Port Harcourt.
“The helicopter company that is helping us during emergencies, River state government has intimidated them to lockdown, federal government needs to step in urgently, otherwise seafarers and offshore workers are in serious danger”