By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Mission to Seafarers in Lagos has embarked on an upgrade of the seafarer centre in Lagos in an attempt to bring it up to international standard and further place Nigeria on a higher pedestal in terms of seafarers welfare.
The newly inaugurated 8-man management committee of the mission headed by former Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Chief Adebayo Sarumi has also created an internet radio programme on Lagoon FM, tailored towards giving seafarers and industry stakeholders a voice.
The Mission to Seafarers Lagos is set to host a global virtual seafarers seminar in Lagos on Thursday 9th July 2020.
Speaking at a press briefing in Lagos yesterday, Chief Sarumi said the Mission to Seafarers is the first seafarer welfare institution in Nigeria established 60 years ago as part of the global 260 mission to seafarers stations established globally in the last 150 years.
At the inauguration of the committee on 15th March 2020, Sarumi said that despite the COVID-19 challenges, the team has since initiated various reforms, part of which is the upgrade of the moribund seafarers Centre in Apapa.
Presently, the seafarers facilities being developed at the centre includes recreational areas such as a lounge, swimming pool, an Internet centre, a gym, library and quiet rooms for meditation.
He revealed that the “Mission Week” celebration and virtual seafarers seminar billed to hold on Thursday with the theme “Seafarers Welfare: Are we Missing the Boat?” would attract a lot of professionals and speakers, all geared towards improving the welfare of seafarers.
The former NPA boss noted that in the Lagos coast alone, over 3,000 ships berth, with over 80% being foreign flagged, the sea is conduit for over 85% of the goods and services around the world today. He however lamented that most people pay attention to the goods, while very few people ask, “who delivers them”
“Seafarers welfare is an hydra headed challenge, it has institutional, political, cultural and social nuances, i must acknowledge the various organisations, institutions and administrations that have continually taken on the plight of seafarers, ours at the MTSL is to ensure that the ball does not drop”
He called on well meaning maritime parastals to come forward and support the ongoing upgrade of the centre, adding that the committee is forging stronger ties with international partners.
Apart from the celebration of the Mission Week, he said the committee hopes to visit some maritime institutions and intimate them of the new vision.
“We hope to cap the mission week on Sunday 12th July 2020 with a thanksgiving service which would also be broadcast online.
Speaking on the establishment of a radio programme online, he said that recently, the mission instituted a seafarers Internet radio program tagged ‘The Seafarer’ which is being boosted by Lagoon Radio.
“We have been given one hour everyday to speak about the seafarers. We would not only be talking about the seafarers, we would also be hosting the stakeholders in the maritime sector whose businesses dovetail on the welfare of the seafarers”
“On a regular basis we shall be speaking live with stakeholders, industry influencers and the seafarers themselves, whether local or foreign as they visit our shores” Sarumi stated.
Other members of the committee are; Rev Canon Abimbola Aduroja, Chaplain of St Andrews Anglican Church Apapa, fronting ship engineer Emmanuel Ilori, Ms Funmi Folorunso is Secretary of the committee.
Other members are; Mr Igho Dafinone, Eng Philip Atitebi, Mrs Yetunde Akinluyi and Mr Dotun Makinwa.
Also in attendance at the press briefing was the President of the Nigerian Association of Master Mariners, Capt Tajudeen Alao and the Managing Director of Apapa Bulk Terminal Limited, Capt Melvin Abe.
Speaking, Capt Melvin Abe noted that the newly renovated seafarers lounge at the centre was sponsored by ABTL Terminal while giving assurances of more support from other terminal operators.
He said seafarers are essential services providers who are sacrifice their comfort to better world economy.
“COVID-19 has taught us a lesson, if you shut the port for one week, there would be serious problems all over the world, there would be complete chaos, aircrafts cannot fly, but the seafarers are still onboard”
“Most of them haven’t gone home for up to one year, they are stuck on their ship, not because they don’t want to go home, they have their families, but they cannot go home because there is no aircrafts to get them home” he said