Government, Stakeholders must tackle Challenge of Sea time training – Isichei

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ANDY ISICHEI... shortly after his investiture.
  • As Dakuku assures NIMASA will keep Windows of investment opportunities open

Newly inaugurated President, Nigerian Chamber of Shipping (NCS), Mr Andy Isichei has stressed the need for a Government-stakeholders collaboration, to tackle the challenges of inadequate sea time training for Nigerian seafarers.

Isichei made the observation on weekend in Lagos at the inauguration of the Governing Council of the chamber, describing the current lack as a major industry challenge, which well meaning Nigerians must not allow to fallow.

The Doyen of the Nigerian Maritime Industry, Ibadan High Chief and former Nigerian Ports Authority Managing Director, Adebayo Babatunde Sarumi congratulating Isichei, after decorating him with the insignia of his new office, at the weekend in Lagos.

Pointing out that the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA)  has trained 2,400 seafarers abroad but with a majority of them loafing about at home because they do not have sea time experience, Isichei assured that he would leverage on the chamber to do best possible, in a bid to enable the seafarers obtain Certificate of Competency after sea time experience.

The Nigerian Chamber of Shipping President indicated that though, “Nigeria does not have vessels to take the seafarers on the mandatory one-year sea time training after graduation’’, the Chamber would collaborate with stakeholders within and outside Nigeria to make sea time training a reality.

“We will collaborate and engage government agencies like the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to stem the tide of retrogression in on-board sea time cadet training.

“The lack of sea time training has resulted in dearth of jobs for our seafarers.

Andy Isichei being congratulated by a smiling Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala Usman, after his investiture at the weekend… in Lagos

“Remittances from overseas by employed and qualified Nigerian seafarers alone will boost the economy,’’ Isichei stated further, stressing that the chamber under his watch, would work closely with heads of maritime agencies and critical stakeholders within and outside the industry to ensure sea time training for seafarers.

He however, explained that the huge amount spent by NIMASA to train seafarers outside the country could be channelled to other areas if the nation had training vessels, adding that the Cabotage Act 2004 was enacted as a major tool not only to improve the maritime industry, but a major employment-generating opportunity.

“Due to lack of implementation of the Act, the country could not enjoy its full benefits,’ Isichei said.

He expressed concern that lack of implementation of key policies to drive the maritime industry was also another major problem.

According to him, the chamber is presently talking with some institutions overseas to collaborate with it to help address some of the identified challenges in the maritime sector.

“Most freight businesses in the country are presently being handled by foreign-owned shipping companies and their vessels.

“Out of 90 tank farms we have in the country, over 80 per cent are owned by foreigners.

“If government puts its foot down to say that if the foreign shipping companies must do business in Nigeria, they must engage our seafarers, then we would be getting some of these things right,’’ he said.

Speaking also on the occasion, the Doyen of the Nigerian Maritime industry, and former Managing Director  Nigerian Ports Authority, Chief Adebayo Sarumi, congratulated Isichei and members of the newly-inaugurated governing Council, imploring the Council to fully champion the cause of practitioners in the industry.

He also commended the pioneering effort of Mr Olisa Agbakoba, who nurtured the chamber as a voice to be reckoned with in the industry.

The Chairman, Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Mrs Vicky Haastrup; a former President, Nigerian Bar Association, Mr Olisa Agbakoba; the Managing Director of NPA, Ms Hadiza Usman; and the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Mr Hassan Bello, were among dignitaries at the event.

Meanwhile, the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside has restated that the Agency is committed towards encouraging domestic and foreign investors in Nigeria’s maritime industry.

Dr. Dakuku made this known at the weekend, at the investiture of Mr. Andy  Isichei as the President of the Nigerian Chamber of Shipping (NCS) and the Inauguration of the members of the NCS Governing Council.

The Director General who was represented by the Agency’s Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Mr. Bashir Jamoh stated that NIMASA under the leadership of Dr. Dakuku is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that the sector remains viable, and most importantly help build stakeholders’ confidence in investing in the industry.

“In line with our mandate of promoting shipping and related activities in Nigeria, we are leaving no stone unturned in advancing Nigeria’s global maritime goals. The vast maritime opportunities that abound in the country need to be harnessed especially as the present administration under President Muhammadu Buhari strives to diversify the economy. We will ensure that our maritime domain becomes more virile and attractive to you stakeholders and other industry players to further build your confidence to invest in the sector”, the DG said.

Dr. Dakuku also reeled out the strides the Agency had made to ensure safety and security in the maritime space adding that the NIMASA 24 Hour Surveillance system is capable of monitoring and spotting all illegal activities on the waterways.

He also noted that owing to NIMASA’s implementation of the International Ships and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code in Nigeria, the ports and terminals are now safer and more reliable to do business, adding that the compliance level of the code in the country have been adjudged to be over 80 per cent from the about 13 percent it was when NIMASA took over as the Designated Authority.

Consequently, the NIMASA DG said that the hosting of Heads of African Maritime Administration Conference in Abuja recently was to further open more channels of maritime businesses between the Nigerian investors and their foreign counterpart.

“Our hosting of African Heads of Maritime Administrations (AAMA) in Nigeria was intended to give you stakeholders a platform to interact with your contemporaries around the world in order to open more maritime opportunities for you, for those who were able to find time to be with us in Abuja for the event, I am quite confident that some useful contacts and engagements were made towards harnessing the various hitherto untapped opportunities” the DG said.

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