Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency has taken steps to domesticate the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 in order to protect Nigerian seafarers.
This was contained in a message delivered by the agency’s Director-General, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, in an event to the celebrate Seafarers Day with the theme: “At Sea For All” in Lagos.
According to Peterside who was represented by the Director of Administration and Human Resources, NIMASA, Ibrahim Jubril, the International Labour Organisation in 2006 came up with the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006, otherwise known as the Seafarers’ Bill of Right, which Nigeria had ratified.
He noted that the convention offers every seafarer the right to a safe and secured workplace that complies with safety standards as well as the right to fair terms of employment.
Peterside also said that the introduction of National Seafarers Development Programme by the agency came as a result of the dearth of seafarers globally
He disclosed that the programme was established to afford Nigerians adequate training and proper certification to be engaged in seafaring on board vessels irrespective of flag.
Speaking further, the DG said that NSDP, an intervention of government, was a way of making Nigeria a major supplier of seafarers like the Chinese, India and Filipinos in contributing to Nigerian economic growth.
“The Agency is presently inundated with cases of employers refusing to pay seafarers’ salaries and allowances legitimately earned by them.
“Today will be the beginning of better days for seafarers when their employers and other stakeholders will begin to take seriously issues bordering on their safety, welfare, health and working environment.” He said
Similarly, the Director of Maritime Labour Services of NIMASA, Juliana Gunwa, said the convention was a product of the consolidation of over 68 of the old seafarers related Maritime Labour Conventions and recommendation.
She explained that what made the ILO different from MLC was the current structure and amendment which was to create a level playing field for government, ship owners and seafarers.
“For example, to a seafarer, it will be a Bill of Right for a decent work and to government it will provide for effective implementation at all levels.
“The aim of the convention is to ensure a decent work for seafarers through a uniform and effective implementation by ILO member states that ratified the instruction.
“The importance of the convention is that compliance and enforcement regime through ports and flag states inspection regime.” She said
While describing the convention as the fourth pillar of the International Maritime standards which complements the International Maritime Organisation she noted that in spite of successes recorded by the agency, NIMASA was currently developing strategies to address effective enforcement to ensure seafarers received their wages as and when due.
Gunwa also stressed the need for companies to present their vessels for inspection and certification in line with the provision of the convention.
Also speaking, Captain Thomas Kemewerigha urged NIMASA to critically enforce the MLC convention, adding that the convention had advocated better working and living conditions for all seafarers, as well as equal work and equal pay.
Kemewerigha said since 2011, June 25 of every year had been celebrated globally as the Day of Seafarers.
He said the recognition was based on the unique contribution made by seafarers to international sea borne trade to the world economy and to the society as a whole.
“Seafarers, as professionals, require technical skills, based on the operational nature of the vessel,” Kemewerigha said.
He said Nigeria was blessed with the largest coast line in West and Central Africa, adding that seafarers today were in hopeless situation.


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