Nigeria is losing over N150 billion annually to foreign seafarers due to dearth of manpower in the shipping sector.
Nigeria is losing over N150 billion annually to foreign seafarers due to dearth of manpower in the shipping sector. The hint was dropped at a two- day seminar on the role of seafaring in a nation"s economy at the Administrative Staff College, Topo, Badagry in Lagos. Sources said no fewer than 3,000 vessels are operating illegally within the country under the guise of cabotage due to lack of enforcement and loopholes in the Inland and Coastal shipping Act. It was revealed that Africa accounts for less than one percent of the total number of seafarers estimated at 1,200,000 serving on over 50,000 vessels engaged in international trade and it was lerarnt that in 2010, there will be a shortage of 41,000 seafarers.
In his paper; Unlocking the Potentials and Opportunities in Nigeria"s Port and Maritime Industry, Otunba Kunle Folarin, chairman, National Seafarers Welfare Board explained that the country needed 60,000 ratings and officers.
He noted that the country had less than 9.000 ratings and 300 officers with master ticket.
Folarin added that the country would need 100,000 ratings and 2,500 officers in the cabotage area.
He said there was shortage of officer in other countries such as Britain, Germany, France and Iran, saying they still go to Philippine to recruit people.
The chairman lamented that foreign cooks and stewards were still being recruited to man cabotage vessels in the country.
He stressed that the demise of the Nigerian National Shipping Lines contributed to loss of the back bone in the training and employment of both officers and ratings who were Nigerians in the shipping trade.
He also identified challenges in the training and employment as including: inadequate training capability; lack of competitiveness in the global market; lack of structured wages and salaries; weak institutional capability; inadequate enforcement of the provisions of the cabotage; lack of opportunity for sea training; lack and enforcement of the provision of the cabotage Act and enforcement of employment of seafarers by oil and gas companies.
However he said that the capacity of Nigeria to engage 100,000 seafarers in the next three years was real when considering the fact that over 4,500ships including 90 very large crude oil carriers call Nigerian ports annually.
In his key note address, the Director General of the Nigerian maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Mr Temisan Omatseye explained that the Nigerian seafarers" manpower pool had depleted.
He said that due to the shortage of seafarers in the country, most of the local maritime transport operators had resorted to foreign seafarers.
However, he explained that the agency had deigned a programme to train seafarers under the Nigerian seafarers" development programme.
Omatseye added; ?Upon the estimated manpower requirement of 670 officers and 1218 ratings in Nigeria by 2020, the NSDP has set measurable targets in seafaring manpower, taking year 2012 as base year. With a marginal increase in the national fleet beyond year 2020, the set level of seafarers" production when maintained annually will leave Nigeria with substantial net number of seafarers for export to the global maritime industry.?
Also Mr Adeleye Ajayi, president, Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria explained that 50,000 vacancies exist in the seafaring in the country.
He urged the Federal Government to encourage state governments to cooperate with NIMASA seafarers" development programme.
?While government intends to take the trainees abroad to India, Egypt, Malaysia and other countries , the association implores the government to establish more maritime academies in Nigeria.?