The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has suspended the issuance of waivers to foreign seafarers manning vessels with the introduction of a New Cabotage Compliance Strategy (NCCS).

The Director-General of the agency, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, made this disclosure on Tuesday in Warri, Delta State, at an event with the theme ‘Seafarers’ Wellbeing’ with particular focus on their mental health, organized by the agency to mark this year’s International Day of the Seafarer.

To this effect, Peterside, who refuted insinuations by some ship owners that Nigerian seafarers lack the required competences to work on board vessels, has mandated all ship owners to always submit their crew on board their vessels’ lists and give information on their vessels operations’ to officials of the agency.

The NIMASA boss said:“It is worthy of note that this policy has recorded some level of success as more Nigerians are now engaged on Cabotage vessels. However, l must mention here that some companies have adopted negative measures to circumvent this policy by withholding information on their vessel‘s operations and the submission of fake crew lists.

“ln some other cases, they come up with the excuse that the Nigerian seafarers lack the required competences to work on board these vessels. I wish to clearly state without any fear of contradiction that Nigerian seafarers’ ranks among the best in the world and can favourably compete with their foreign counterparts”, Peterside maintained.

He pointed out that this explained why the NIMASA had in the past few years, embarked on training and retraining of seafarers and cadets in specialised maritime courses both locally and internationally with the sole aim of enhancing their competences, capability and employability.

The DG clarified further: “For the records, NIMASA has so for trained over 2,051 cadets under the Nigerian seafarers development programme (NSDP). In addition to those who have already undergone their mandatory sea time training, 500 have been earmarked for sea time training in 2018 fiscal year, while additional 500 will undergo the training in 2019.

“Furthermore, 150 fresh cadets will benefit from the programme under the NSDP~3 which will commence in the next academic session.

“On the other hand, the agency in May this year facilitated the training of 370 Nigerian Seafarers in relevant courses leading to certifications on Standard of Training Certification and Watch-keeping (STCW)), Oil tanker familiarisation, Security Awareness (lSPS) Code, Proficiency in Survival Craft and Rescue Boat (PSCRB) and Dynamic Positioning”, Peterside added.

Industry experts believe that improving seafarers’ wellbeing can achieved through the adoption of effective strategies.

Based on its mandate, NIMASA has the responsibility to ensure the placement of seafarers on board all cabotage vessels operating in the country.