… Bello-Koko Lauded for Foresight, Outshining Other Agencies
By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Mohammed Bello-Koko with senior management members of NPA on Friday took a tour of the Mission to Seafarers (MTS Lagos) located at at Marine Road, Apapa, even as he pledged that the authority is renovating the center with immediate effect.
This is coming after several years of abandonment by relevant agencies concerned with the welfare of seafarers, especially those foreigners calling at Nigerian ports.
Bello-Koko after taking a tour of the facility expressed sadness at the years of decay, saying that the present status of the MTS Lagos is not befitting of Nigeria as a maritime nation.
The NPA boss who came on the visit with a team of engineers, subsequently directed them to hit the ground running, even as a 3D Project Plan was given to them by management of the mission to work upon.
Speaking, Bello-Koko said
“The physical infrastructure is quite embarrassing, it’s dilapidated, this is not what I expected to see and I am really sad to see this.
“We all know the relevance of the mission, they are to take relevant actions concerning the welfare of the seafarers, and their mental health. They have been doing quite a good job, in recent times, we have had discussions with them and we felt that there is need for the NPA to get involved in the renovation of this place.
“This is where sailors coming into Nigeria from other countries relax and spend a good time, but this is not befitting.
“In Nigeria, the port community revolves around the Port Authority and probably a few stakeholders, so, we would take responsibility, the bulk stops here.
Speaking further, Bello-Koko noted that Seafarers are integral part of the cargo supply chain, and that their welfare is very important.
According to him, the NPA is constantly partnering with agencies including the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) on the general welfare of seafarers, adding that this is why “A Day of the Seafarers” is marked annually to discuss their welfare and ensure they get all they deserve, especially medical and mental health needs.
“This place used to be one of the best in the world, but today, you can see the current state of it.
“What you are going to see is that NPA is coming onboard to ensure that this centre is renovated, we would give it a befitting look and the necessary ambience and conducive environment for seafarers coming into Nigeria, they would get the same service and attention that they get in other parts of the world.
“This would also help to increase the rating of our port, you shouldn’t come to Nigeria after staying thirty days on the vessel and still be forced to remain on the vessel for another four weeks, just because we do not have the necessary condusive environment.
“You are going to see activities happening here very soon, NPA is going to give the necessary support to Mission to Seafarers Lagos” Bello-Koko assured
Also speaking, Chairman of the Mission to Seafarers (MTS Lagos) Chief Adebayo Sarumi said that Mission to Seafarers is a global organization with centres established all over the world.
He however lamented that the center located in Nigeria is an eyesore.
Sarumi took a swipe at other government agencies operating in the maritime sector, apparently, for abandoning the seafarers centre, adding that only NPA and a few other companies have been forthcoming.
“We appreciate the NPA for coming in to render this support, we understand the burden of it, it’s a lot of burden, NPA has always been in the vanguard of everything, a Port Community is a community that shares virtually everything, but it is now becoming only NPA carrying everything, and we are grateful to the Managing Director for not changing that perception
“Soon, this place would transform into one of the most welcoming arena for the seafarers visiting. They would have opportunities to get in touch with their families, by the time we set up the communication gadgets that would allow them speak directly to their families back at home.
“Remember that NPA is not their employers, but we are only giving them a feeling of being human.
“I have the faith that someone would eventually come and assist us, we have been groopping for assistance for so long” Sarumi stated
While speaking on the benefits of Nigeria having a befitting Seafarers Centre, he said that this would further lead to removal of the War Risk Insurance Premiums usually placed on seafarers calling at Nigerian ports.
“Some of the Seafarers, when they are coming to places like Nigeria, they usually take war Risk Insurance Premiums on them as if they are going to the warfront, with this, there would not be such things again, and at the level of IMO, we would go with our head high, that we are one of the most welcoming ports of the world, when we say we want to seat in the Council, they would agree that indeed, Nigeria is a maritime nation.
“Bello-Koko management is getting it right, he is interpreting our dreams of what a modern port should look like” Sarumi said