Address by the director general, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside on the celebration of International Day of the Seafarers, 2016. THEME: “AT SEA FOR ALL”
It is a privilege for me to be among this august audience on this day which the International Maritime Organisation (IMO)has set aside as the International Day of the Seafarers to celebrate the seafarer and allow the world know how and why the seafarer is indispensable to everyone.
It is pertinent for us to understand that without seafarers there will be no shipping transportation; thus we ought to recognise the importance and indispensability of shipping to the world’s socio-economic setting.
Maritime transportation more than any other mode of transportation, facilitates the movement of huge volume of global trade to various destinations across the world seas.
One of the core functions of NIMASA is the development of shipping and regulation of matters relating to merchant shipping and seafarers, this clearly underscores the importance that the Agency pays to the welfare of our seafarers.
This year’s campaign is aimed at celebrating Seafarers and letting the World know how and why Seafarers are indispensible to everyone.
In the words of IMO Secretary-General, Kitack Lim,”this year, on June 25th, the day of the Seafarers, we are once again asking people everywhere to show their appreciation to the Seafarers that quietly, mostly unnoticed, keep the wheels of the World in motion.”
As we mark this year’s day of the Seafarers, the focus is on maritime education and encouraging young people to consider a career at Sea.
We are here gathered today to celebrate seafarers, who are these seafarers?
Article II (1) (f) of the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), 2006 defines seafarer as “any person who is employed or engaged or works in any capacity on board a ship to which this Convention applies”.
A seafarer is thus any person who is employed or engaged or work in any capacity on board a ship, thus from the Captain to the boiler and cook, the Convention applies to them; therefore seafarers also have employment and social rights as contained in Article IV of the MLC 2006.
Over the years, various types of vessels have been built for the purpose of carriage of persons and goods from one point to another.
Technology has brought about improvement in the type, size, speed, design and compartments for carrying passengers and goods on board vessels.
However, no matter how atheistically beautiful and well-constructed in terms of navigation and operational capacity, the vessel will not move without someone to navigate across the vast oceans of the world, this is where the seafarer comes in.
Today, presents a rare opportunity for the world to celebrate the Seafarer who is rarely acknowledged as the core component in the development of global shipping, perhaps this is why the International Maritime Organisation has as its theme for this year’s celebration as “At Sea for All”.
It is important that stakeholders and the general public appreciate what the seafarers endure when carrying out their responsibilities such as the many months they spend away from their loved ones under harsh weather conditions in the turbulent seas.
Seafarers can be termed as citizens of the world in the sense that they are constantly on the move on account of the vessel which they are on board.
They practically live their lives at sea and sometimes sacrifice a lot to ensure that passengers and goods get safely to their final destinations.
In recognition of the above fact and given the global nature of shipping, seafarers need special protection; hence, the International Labour Organisation in 2006 came up with the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), 2006 otherwise referred to as the seafarers’ Bill of Rights, a treaty Nigeria has ratified.
According to the Convention, every seafarer has a right to a safe and secure workplace that complies with safety standards; every seafarer has a right to fair terms of employment etc.
NIMASA as the Maritime Administration of Nigeria has taken steps to domesticate the MLC 2006 in order to protect Nigerian seafarers.
The Agency realising the employment opportunity in seafaring as a result of the dearth of seafarers globally, introduced the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) to afford Nigerians the adequate training and proper certification opportunity to get engaged in seafaring on board vessels irrespective of flag.
This is a strategic intervention of government as a way of making Nigeria a major supplier of seafarers like the Chinese, Indians and Phillipinos thus, contributing to Nigeria’s economic growth.
At this juncture, I would like to call on all maritime stakeholders to identify with the theme of this year’s Day of the Seafarers campaign by appreciating the invaluable contribution of seafarers to our wellbeing.
The Agency is presently inundated with cases of employers refusing to pay seafarers salaries and allowances legitimately earned by them.
It is expected that today will be the beginning of better days for seafarers when their employers and other critical stakeholders will begin to take seriously issues bordering on their safety, work environment, welfare and health whereby cases of unpaid salaries and health benefits will be a thing of the past as these issues have become too frequent.
I thank you for finding time to attend this event and wish you all a very happy celebration of the day of the seafarers, the unsung heroes of the World’s economy who are always ‘at sea for all’.
Dr. Dakuku A. Peterside