By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) revamping of the abandoned and dilapidated Mission to Seafarers (MTS) center in Apapa to a global standard would now be completed in the next two months.
This indication was given at the 2023 Annual Sea Sunday Service of the mission held in Lagos.
The service had the theme: “The Importance of Seafarers to our Well being and Global Economy.”
Chaplain of the Centre, Rev. Bimbo Aduroja, said that between last year and this year, MTS was able to assist about 200 seafarers through going onboard, and asking about their wellbeing.
According to Aduroja, when they go on board, their major target is foreign seafarers visiting the country from different parts of the world such as China, Australia, and others.
“Between two to three months, the center will be ready. This is the first stage, renovation of the building, and swimming pool. We still have empty lands that we want to work on,” he said.
Speaking earlier, Chief Adebayo Sarumi, Chairman, of the MTS Lagos, said that the seafarer’s center was undergoing renovation at the moment but needed more attention, modification, and innovation to be able to receive seafarers.
He listed the services rendered by the MTS to the seafarers as legal advocacy, spiritual, physical, and psychological support, and others.
Sarumi stated that the services helped to calm the storm in the seafarers’ lives.
“The mission to seafarers is open to all religious beliefs, all nations, gender, and color and they need assistance due to the type of environment they operate in.
In addition to physical danger due to travel by sea, they are also in danger of suicide, long voyage without shore leaves, psychological illness, piracy and armed attack and others.
“We provide home from home for seafarers or a safe transit point when they leave the vessel, attend to their welfare so that they can maintain our way of life and needs.
“With over 3,000 ships visiting Lagos, the center is strategic to seafarers support and so the need to pay attention to upgrading the center,” he said.
He called for support in providing vehicles to visit the ship and bringing the seafarers out of their enclaves, providing them with means of communication with their families, and relief when stranded in foreign countries.
Also, Rev. Emmanuel Ilori, the Assistant Chaplain, MTS, said that the issue of shore leave was a global problem.
Ilori noted that it was the reason MTS brings seafarers ashore to have a change, a break from the stressful environment where they live.
“The shore leave is a serious and global problem because we find out that some nations do not allow seafarers to go ashore.
“ You can imagine working in that stressful environment and you just want to take a break from the ship and you are not allowed to.
“In Nigeria, we make sure we go to see them and there is an advocacy with the government to ensure that Nigeria is a leading nation that attends to visiting seafarers.
“With the upgrading at our center, it will ensure that Nigeria plays a major role in attending to challenges of seafarers,” he said.
Earlier, Rt. Rev. Olusola Odedeji, Supervising Bishop, Diocese of Lagos, Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion, in his sermon, urged the Lagos State Government to ensure that the mission to seafarersgetst the needed assistance, and support in carrying out their mandate.
Odedeji noted that caring for seafarers had to do with preaching and proclaiming the word of God and living out the life of Christ so that more souls would be cared for.
According to Odedeji, the mission is the heartbeat of God and has to do with touching lives, reaching the unreachable, and others.
“It a necessity to care for seafarers because it’s a command from God to go and teach all nations, a crown will be won and God will ask one what he did with his life,” Odedeji said.