…After several years in limbo!
The Lagos Channel Management (LCM), a joint venture company between the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Landfall Towage and Transport Services may have assisted Nigeria in producing three brand new Master Mariners, after several years in limbo.
The master mariners, who got their Certificate of Competence (COC) only last month, may thus become the first batch of youths, to be enrolled in a nation’s professional body, whose majority of memberships range from 60 years and above.
The certification confers on the youth the endorsement to handle vessels not above 500 gross tonnage, including tugs.
“It is a miracle. My brother who was only a few years back, hopelessly on the street, is now a master mariner!”, a lady who spoke on condition of strong anonymity told the Maritime First, stressing that the whole family was happy, that the brother listened to an uncle, who revealed that the LCM was recruiting to train!
“This calls for more than clinking of glasses. Thanksgiving go dey and champagnes go flow”, she highlighted further.
Investigation showed that the young Master Mariners, Charles Babatunde Olorunkunle, Victor Enebeli and Ezekiel Dare Owope were trained and certificated in Ghana, a country which is not only on the International Maritime Organization’s White List, but also enjoys higher credibility than Nigeria.
When the LCM Managing Director, Mr. Danny Fuchs was contacted, he confirmed the story, stressing that the company started its pilot scheme with 40 Nigerian youth, and sponsored them to Ghana, with special emphasis on discipline, commitment and good behaviour.
“Our main purpose is for tugs; but now, they can also upgrade themselves to handle any ships in the world.
“We started with 40 cadets, consisting of 20 engines and 20 decks…We presently have 15 certificated, consisting of seven decks and eight engines.
” We are fulfilling our assignments now: to take people off the streets and turn them into Engineers and Master Mariners”, indicated Fuchs, stressing that the LCM is also leaving no stones unturned, in its bid to assist the engineers who presently hold their COC as third engineers to further upgrade to second, so as to enable them handle higher capacity engines.
Asked how many years it would take them to serve the company, the LCM surprised everyone when he said the company did not allow the youths to sign any contracts with them.
“They know from inception that they are free, on the completion of their courses, to stay with us; or to go and work in any part of the world. We did not allow them to sign any papers. Only a promise to be good ambassadors of the country, wherever they go!” he concluded, adding that the youths also had their mandatory sea-time experience in Nigeria under Landfall strict supervision.
It would be noted that the Nigerian Government attempt at producing certificated seafarers through the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron has been a remarkable failure, as a result of Government’s inability to provide a required training vessel to enable the cadets acquire the mandatory sea time experience. The Government also failed to, provide an enabling policy as done in other climes, that would compel foreign ship owners to do so. Consequently, most graduates of the academy, in spite of their impeccable academic records have remained jobless, being perceived as half baked, because of their lack of mandatory sea time experience.