By DAPO OLAWUNI
In order to be on same page with the United Nations in implementation of its Sustainable Development Goals, SDG 2030, the Nigerian Association of Master Mariners has called for implementation of the National Transport Policy in Nigeria.
This call was the highpoint of the World Maritime Day celebration held in Apapa yesterday by the master mariners in collaboration with the Mission to Seafarers Lagos.
The theme of the 2020 World Maritime Day celebration by the master mariners is; “Sustainable Shipping for a Sustainable Planet–The Nigerian Dimension ”
The association observed that the National Transport Policy has remained a draft for the past 20 years, even as it berated the Federal Ministry of Transportation for foot dragging on its implementation.
President of the association, Capt Tajudeen Alao said Nigeria with all its vast maritime resources must not be a weak link in the global chain of trade and in implementation of the UN plans and policies.
According to him, the attainment of the SDGs requires a strong commitment by all UN member states including Nigeria, adding that the phenomena engulfing member states at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) stems from lack of knowledge and policy incoherence at national level.
The master mariner said there was need to create more awareness and ownership towards balancing the three dimensions of sustainable development namely ; the economic, environmental and the social.
He acknowledged that the Nigerian maritime sector with shipping as its nervous system, is the principal facilitator of 95% of Nigerian trade including oil and gas, he however lamented that most of the oil rigs on Nigerian waters and the vessels that service them are owned and controlled by foreigners in defiance to the Cabotage Law.
“Granted that if we do not strive to balance these 3-dimensions, cherish our blessing and strengthen our link, we would erode our political gains in the international maritime community, would continue to generate cargo into the world freight market but unable to flag ships to carry the cargo”
“We would not be able to train seafarers successfully for lack of practical sea experience, and our efficient port terminals will depend on foreign management” Alao said
Also speaking, former President of the association, Capt Ade Olopoenia lamented the dearth of the Nigerian Maritime Expo (NIMAREX) for the past 5years, he said a lot of solutions are brought up by stakeholders but they are never implemented.
According to him “The bedrock of implementation of these 13 SDG and for the maritime sector to move forward, the first thing we need is a National Transport Policy”
“The transport policy for Nigeria has been drafted for more than 20years and if you go online you would see it there, but it is still a draft” he said
Olopoenia recalls that more than a year ago, transport minister, Rotimi Amaechi had inaugurated a committee for implementation of the policy but nothing has happened ever since.
According to him “The heads of our agencies, when they arrive, they only come with their own ideas, as soon as they leave, another leader comes with his own idea, I believe the transport policy is the first step for us to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals”
In his welcome address, Chairman of the Mission to Seafarers Lagos, Chief Adebayo Sarumi urged the master mariners to take possession and ownership of the seafarers Centre and develop it.
Sarumi was was represented by the Secretary of the Mission, Mrs Funmi Folorunso.
“Mission to Seafarers is a centre for master mariners, engineers and others who come onboard ships to Nigeria, they could be Nigerians, they could be foreigners.
All of you seated here have at one time or the other benefited from mariners centres all over the world, therefore, there is need for you to advocate for the one in Lagos”
He noted that a new committee was constituted for the centre and that in the last six months, it has gone on a mission for survival of the seafarers amidst the Covid-19
He charged the master mariners to advocate for the seafarers centre with more investors and maritime stakeholders on the need to develop it.
The master mariners seafarers day celebration was attended by a cross section of maritime stakeholders including former President of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Prince Olayiwola Shittu, Nigerian Merchant Navy Officers former President, Engr Mathew Alalade and its current National Secretary, Comrade John Okpono.
Others in attendance are; Chaplain of Mission to Seafarers, Rev Bimbo Aduroja, Financial Secretary, Igho Dafinone, National Vice President of Nigerian Institute of Shipping (NIS) Segun Olufioye Johnson and its Registrar, Mr. Sampson Chima.