By DAPO OLAWUNI
Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dr Bashir Jamoh has accused Nigerian seafarers of dying in silence but never coming forward to lodge former complaints to the apex regulatory agency about alleged disparities in their wages.
Nigerian seafarers over the years have lamented disparity in wages, saying that foreign seafarers earn far higher salaries than Nigerian seafarers, and that shipowners even prefer to employ expatriates over competent indigenous seafarers.
Dr. Jamoh while speaking with journalists at the NIMASA headquarters recently lamented that the problem has persisted because most seafarers are desperate to get jobs without considering the terms and agreement properly.
He said that most of the seafarers complaining about disparity in wages have never come up to NIMASA with a formal complain.
According to him, NIMASA has made a lot of mile stone interventions in some of the complaints that were reported to her officially by seafarers.
Speaking, he said “On the disparity in seafarers wages, we are conducting research on that, in the beginning we thought that this disparity was only with foreign vessels, but we observed that even when the local vessels pick expatriates, the salaries used to have disparity.
When we finish our research, we would come up with some Marine Notice to inform the stakeholders of our own position”
“The problem is that seafarers hardly come forward to lodge complaints officially, this is because they are desperate to get the job, after they get the job, they feel contented with the salary they are given, but when the deal gets going, Abraham Maslow’s law on hierarchy of needs starts to manifest and the seafarer starts complaining”
“But at the beginning, he understands that this is what would happen, but he goes to sleep, and by the time he starts thinking of security and other comfort, he would now start making noise”
“But the right Authority which is NIMASA, if he didn’t lodge the complain and give us scenarios, we go and check the books and find out that we cannot be able to execute anything”
“If you are a Judge, it is only when they bring a criminal before you that you can pass judgement, but even if somebody commits murder in your presence as a Judge, you cannot be a witness and still be a Judge on the matter”
“Anytime the seafarers have genuine complaints, our doors are open, let them come with these complaints, we appreciate them, but we cannot act if we dont have the formal complaints”
“NIMASA has made a lot of inroads in so many areas of discrepancies and injustices, but you would never hear it outside, you would only hear the negative side, but we appreciate that, it is like a fly that only goes to smelly areas, but when it comes to the bees, they sought good things, this is what we are experiencing” he said
Meanwhile, the NIMASA DG at a Webex meeting to mark the celebration of the seafarers day 2020 in Nigeria yesterday said the agency has approved a special COVID-19 welfare package for the Nigerian seafarers, which he argued was in line with NIMASA’s continuous zeal to ensure that their welfare is not geopardised in anyway.
During the meeting, Dr Jamoh appreciated the contributions and sacrifice of the seafarers in the country’s efforts to curtail the spread of the COVID-19 virus, which has left many dead in the country.
He also noted that the seafarers are strategic to the growth and sustenance of Nigeria’s economy, being an import- dependent nation and a major exporter of crude oil, a development that has informed the commitment of the government and NIMASA to the welfare of the nation’s seafarers.
While responding to stakeholders contributions at the virtual meeting, Dr. Jamoh assured that the agency was addressing all the issues around the Certificate of Competence CoC for the Nigerian seafarers to make them globally employable competitive.
He also assured that the agency was doing everything possible to upgrade the nation’s maritime universities and other institutes in terms of adhering to international best practice so that degrees or certificates awarded by them would match with those from institutions in the United Kingdom and other maritime training institutions across the world.