By DAPO OLAWUNI
Even though the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) recently issued a Marine Notice declaring seafarers as essential workers, a group of Nigerian seafarers known as Maritime Professionals Forum (MARPRO) has said that crew rotation amidst the COVID-19 is still not effective.
Spokesperson of the group, Capt Segun Akanbi in an exclusive chat with DAILY TREND NEWS lamented that a lot of seafarers that were stranded at home before the COVID-19 lockdown have been unable to return onboard. He said a lot of seafarers have been at shore for the past six months.
According to him, the seafarers are now getting desperate to accept any kind of job offers, and that shipping companies are now taking advantage of this.
Capt Akanbi called on NIMASA to ensure strict monitoring of the shipping companies standard of operations and create a direct feedback platform to the Director General’s office so that seafarers can have access to lay complaints.
“Most Seafarers do not earn off-pay and due to the lockdown, most of them have been held at home for up to 6months. That leads to desperation of seafarers at home to accept any kind of offer and some indigenous Shipping companies are taking advantage of the situation”
“That isn’t a proper way to celebrate the key workers”
“They are desperate to return to work because they don’t earn money while at home. Nobody seems to be thinking about them.
Very soon there license would expire and they would be required to renew those document.
Some have been home since December till date, and no pay”
“Government should be strict with the companies on crew rotation. Get necessary approval for interstate movement and possible 14days quarantine”
“The DG needs to watch closely on the standard of operations of the Shipping companies and create a direct feedback platform to the DG. We have a lot to tell him if we have a direct means to do so” he said
The MARPRO spokesman appealed that the same love that many industry stakeholders showed the seafarers on the celebration of the seafarers day 2020 should be continous and not a once in a year affair.
He said “Even if it is a tweet from Mr President, at least, he should send a wish to the men who are out there defending the economy. Same way he has been wishing the Teachers, Doctor etc”
“There is always something to celebrate. We appreciate the intervention of NIMASA on crew change and for pushing for recognition of Seafarers as key workers”
“We would like them to also work on seafarers identification and dress code. All this should be enshrined into the NIMASA Act, so that seafarers identity is protected while going about the frontline duties without being impersonated or misrepresented”