- As Migrants from west Africa are ‘sold in Libyan slave markets’
In line with its commitment to enhance Nigeria’s local capacity and provide competent indigenous workforce for the energy services sector, Nigerdock has unveiled a re-branded Training and Development Academy, the foremost indigenous institution offering the highest quality and competence needs-based training for its workforce and clients in the sector.
The fully-equipped academy, which was unveiled on Thursday, April 6, 2017, is a globally recognised centre that has been training tradesmen and professionals for over three decades, recording over 6,000 trainees in various skills including project management, quality assurance, occupational health and safety, welding, fitting, painting and coating, machining, lifting, rigging and scaffolding among others.
Representatives of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Oil and Gas Trainers Association of Nigeria (OGTAN), Nigerian Institute of Welding (NIW), International Oil and Gas Companies (IOCs) as well as business partners, who graced the occasion, commended Nigerdock for its consistent efforts to bolster local content and put Nigeria on the global map in the terms of complex oil and gas projects delivery.
While unveiling the re-branded academy (formerly known as Nigerdock Training Centre), Group Corporate Affairs Director, Jagal – Joy Okebalama, noted that by re-branding the centre, the company will be able to replicate its excellent quality footprints in the industry. It will also be able to increase its accreditation portfolio, enable partnerships with relevant public and private organizations, arm Nigerian youth with skills for employment and life and will ultimately be franchised across Nigeria with the bid to offering internationally accredited qualifications in various disciplines.
She explained that the training centre recorded a landmark achievement in 2012 when it was adjudged most suitable to develop and deliver bespoke training programs in different skillsets lacking in the Oil and Gas sector on the back of the Chevron DSO Project in Nigeria.
“Our trainees are highly sought after by both our competitors and admirers due to the quality of training they have received. We are very proud of the fact that we give them the training and tools that equip them to add value in a very demanding industry”, she said.
Established in 1986 as Nigerdock Training School, its initial focus was providing training and qualification for the company’s internal needs.
Thereafter, it entered into partnership with the National Directorate of Employment for training of welders, fitters and machinists. An active member of OGTAN and NIW, the Nigerdock Training Academy was the first Private Sector organization to be accredited as an Authorized Training Body by the International Institute of Welding. It is also a City & Guilds Approved Training Centre, boasting over 30 internally developed courses, leading to international/industry recognised certifications.
Nigerdock has made significant contribution to Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board Human Capacity Development Initiative (NHCDI), contributing over 500,000 man hours by successfully executing programs that have trained Nigerians in over 30 skillsets/disciplines, across Fabrication, Engineering, HSEQ, Project Management, Commercial Disciplines, Supply Chain Management and integrating training beneficiaries through employment by Nigerdock.
In the meantime, West African migrants are being bought and sold openly in modern-day slave markets in Libya, survivors have told a UN agency helping them return home.
Trafficked people passing through Libya have previously reported violence, extortion and slave labour. But the new testimony from the International Organization for Migration suggests that the trade in human beings has become so normalised that people are being traded in public.
“The latest reports of ‘slave markets’ for migrants can be added to a long list of outrages [in Libya],” said Mohammed Abdiker, IOM’s head of operation and emergencies. “The situation is dire. The more IOM engages inside Libya, the more we learn that it is a vale of tears for all too many migrants.”
The north African nation is a major exit point for refugees from Africa trying to take boats to Europe. But since the overthrow of autocratic leader Muammar Gaddafi, the vast, sparsely populated country has slid into violent chaos and migrants with little cash and usually no papers are particularly vulnerable.
One 34-year-old survivor from Senegal said he was taken to a dusty lot in the south Libyan city of Sabha after crossing the desert from Niger in a bus organised by people smugglers. The group had paid to be taken to the coast, where they planned to risk a boat trip to Europe, but their driver suddenly said middlemen had not passed on his fees and put his passengers up for sale.
“The men on the pick-up were brought to a square, or parking lot, where a kind of slave trade was happening. There were locals – he described them as Arabs – buying sub-Saharan migrants,” said Livia Manante, an IOM officer based in Niger who helps people wanting to return home.
She interviewed the survivor after he escaped from Libya earlier this month and said accounts of slave markets were confirmed by other migrants she spoke to in Niger and some who had been interviewed by colleagues in Europe.
“Several other migrants confirmed his story, independently describing kinds of slave markets as well as kinds of private prisons all over in Libya,” Manente said. “IOM Italy has confirmed that this story is similar to many stories reported by migrants and collected at landing points in southern Italy, including the slave market reports. This gives more evidence that the stories reported are true, as the stories of those who managed to cross-match those who are returning back to their countries.”
After his sale, the Senegalese migrant was taken to a makeshift prison of a kind that has been well documented in Libya. Those held inside are forced to work without pay, or on meagre rations, and their captors regularly call family at home demanding a ransom. His captors asked for 300,000 west African francs (about £380), then sold him on to a larger jail where the demand doubled without explanation.
Men who lingered there too long without the ransom being paid were taken away and killed, he said. Some wasted away on meagre rations in unsanitary conditions, dying of hunger and disease, but overall numbers never fell. “If the number of migrants goes down, because of death or someone is ransomed, the kidnappers just go to the market and buy one,” Manente said.
His terrified family began scraping together loans. As he spoke fluent English, French and some local languages, he translated for his jailers to win time for relatives to collect the money.
Many other migrants flee Libya with similar stories, said Giuseppe Loprete, chief of mission at IOM Niger. “Its very clear they see themselves as being treated as slaves,” he said.
Loprete’s office has arranged for the repatriation of 1,500 people in the first three months of this year – almost the same number as in the whole of 2015. He fears more horrors are likely to emerge.
Additional report from Guardian