By Godfrey Bivbere
Operators in the oil and gas sector are rejecting Nigerian certified seafarers in favour of foreign trained ones.
The Secretary of the Institute of Marine Science and Technology (IMarEST), Mr. Alex Peters, who disclosed this, said the action of the oil and gas industry operators is not only depriving Nigerian trained seafarers of employment opportunities but also contravenes the Cabotage Act.
The IMarEST boss attributed the rejection of Nigerian seafarers to lack of training standard and structure which expose the country’s sea men to the training standards of other countries.
He pointed out that even the training institutions in the country do not have a known structure, making it difficult to have a unified training programme.
According to him, “Britain has a structured training programme which is tailored to sooth its condition. Philippine and South Korea have even India but Nigeria has none.
“We train cadets in Ghana, Germany, ,Philippine, and Malaysia, Britain and America, all sorts of places. They train them in their own standard, their system and when they come back home , we have a whole bunch of seafearers not trained in Nigerian standard because we do not have one.
“We spend a lot of money sending people to these places, may be we should have spent that money to upgrade the Nigeria Maritime Academy, MAN, Oron, strengthen the department of maritime safety and seafarers standard of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, strengthen it in such a way that we can set our own standard, so that we can structure our own programme and say this is what we want.
“If somebody comes in with a foreign certificate, and wants to get employed here, there must be an agreement between Nigeria and the country from which that seafarer got his certificate to ensure that the training acquired is in line with our own standard.
“If you bring an Indian ship to operate in Nigeria, Nigeria should not allow that Indian ship to operate in Nigeria unless there is a bilateral agreement between the two countries regarding seafarers training.”
On foreigners and foreign vessels operating on the nation’s waterways, Peters said, “Yes of course, they are breaching the Cabotage Act; you know that the Cabotage Act itself has been difficult to operate because a lot of the provisions in the Act cannot be fulfilled. For example, the Act stipulates that a ship doing the Cabotage trade must be built in Nigeria, must be crewed by Nigerians from top to bottom and so on and so forth but is there any ship building yard in Nigeria, no.”