By DAPO OLAWUNI
In order to put an end to the casualization of Nigerian Seafarers by the various shipping companies, the Nigerian Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transport Senior Staff Association (NMNOWTSSA) has commenced free medical check-up for Seafarers at its National Secretariat at Apapa GRA, Lagos.
The free medical check-up is being provided by the Shipping Zonal Council of the union in order to ensure that seafarers are medical fit before and after they disembark on vessels.
Capt Saliu Adetayo Awonuga, Chairman of Shipping Zonal Council in a chat with DAILY TREND on Monday said that most shipping companies were using Nigeria Seafarers as casual workers, they do not care about their health after they have disembarked from their ships.
He said “An average Nigerian do not go for medical check-up, but we believe that this would assist the Seafarers in a lot of ways, by getting their health in order.
“When you do your medical check-up regularly, you would know what you have to stop doing or what to leverage on, it would help you to keep fit always, by doing this whenever you go for job interviews, they would certify you okay.
According to him, the scheme kick-started on the 14th of July 2022, and it takes place every Thursday with a massive turnout.
Also speaking with our correspondent, Comrade Ifeayin Abel Chukwu, Assistant Secretary of the Shipping Zonal Council of the union noted that before seafarers go onboard vessels, the shipping companies demand a lot of tests because they want the Seafarers to be medically fit before embarking on vessels for their job.
“But, we notice that after the job, what happens to the Seafarers?
As a union saddled with the responsibility of taking care of the Seafarers, we decided to provide this free healthcare, because what it means is that any seafarer who is not fit would probably not go for the next voyage, it’s just like casualization of workers, the shipping companies only take care of you while you are onboard their vessels”
“So, we have taken it upon ourselves as a union to take care of the Seafarers even when they are not onboard, so that they can ways be free to get jobs
“Over time, there has been reports of sudden death of our members, and we have decided not to allow this to continue. These are guys that have gotten wealth of experience that needs to be embedded into the incoming generation, so we cannot afford to be losing them.
“When the Seafarers come here, the medics advise them on what to do, we also have plans to buys drugs they needed to come back on their feet.
“After seafarers disembark, nobody cares about them again, it is based on this premise that we are doing this” he said