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NIMASA tasked on discrimination against Nigerian seafarers’ certificate

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A Marine Engineer, Daniel Ikueyemi, on Saturday urged the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to address the issue of discrimination against the Nigerian Seafarers’ Certificate of Competence (COC).

He made the appeal on an Instagram live programme organised by Mrs Ezinne Azunnah of the MaritimeTvNews, entitled, ”Seafarers’ Certificate of Competence: Quality and Opportunities”.

The Certificate of Competency (COC) is a form of licence every mariner is granted to work on ships.

The certificate ensures that the concerned person has the sufficient knowledge and skills to sail on ocean-going vessels.

According to him, our COC is not strong enough and the issue of discrimination of the COC is a common thing for us.

He added that to ensure that the discrimination stopped, there was the need for NIMASA as the regulator to strengthen the security of the COC to standardise it and prevent it from being forged.

“Other ways to tackle the issue is to have a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with some African countries to ensure seafarers utilise their COC.

“There is a notion that 60 per cent of what is taught does not correlate.

“There is need to check this notion and also look into the curriculum that are being used in the country’s maritime academies,’’ he said.

Ikueyemi also pointed out that the feedback mechanism that existed did not capture seafarers’ experience at sea.

He urged NIMASA to have a plan from point of training to point at which seafarers were employed so that their trade would be harnessed.

Also Capt. Ola Alufa, a Marine Captain and Consultant said that the restriction of the country’s COC had not given seafarers the opportunity to be utilised globally.

According to him, Nigerian seafarers are faced with limitations as regards categorisation and that should be expunged.

Alufa suggested that Nigerian seafarers should be well-employed everywhere and be able to work in vessels.

“The limitation is the categorisation. We do not have trading vessels and we need them now.

“NIMASA has tried as regards the curriculum, experience and examination which is very tough. It is of international standard, we need to encourage our own certificate,” he said

He recommended that the Ministry of Transportation must work hand in hand with NIMASA to write to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to expunge the clause affecting seafarers.

“A lot of seafarers have not yet gone on board a ship before. They just got the certificate from schools but there is no opportunity and this still bounces back to government on the need for training vessels.

“The vessels will give seafarers the experience and certificate to be recognised worldwide,” he said. (NAN)

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Maritime

DANTSOHO TAKES OVER AS THE NEW PORT MANAGER, ONNE PORT COMPLEX

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Dr. Abubakar Dantsoho, has taken over as the new Port Manager of Onne Port Complex. The new posting came as a result of some re-sufflement and reassignment by the MD, Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala Usman.
Dantsoho arrived the Port Harcourt International Airport Omagwa, Rivers state from Lagos and was received by Management team from Onne Port including the Acting Port Manager, Dr. Julius Agbo, the Principal Manager Corporate and Strategic Communication, Mrs. Barbara Ejemeh Nchey-Achukwu, Head of Departments including some labour unions among others.
Welcoming the new Port Manager at the Conference Room NPA, Federal Lighter Terminal Onne, the outgoing Port Manager Alhassan Ismaila Abubakar represented by Dr Julius Agbo, Chief Medical Director Onne Port expressed satisfaction for the new posting saying that the only thing constant in life is change. He maintained that such changes strengthen the operations of Nigerian Ports Authority( NPA)
“We are happy to have you at the Port” he said insisting that the level of attendance by Heads of Departments shows how happy we are to receive you as the new Port Manager.
Responding, the new Port Manager Dr. Abubakar Dantsoho expressed appreciation on the warm reception accorded him while thanking the NPA Management Onne Port and other stakeholders for their excellent performance even as he applauded the HODs, for their wonderful contribution in making Onne Port a revenue hub for the nation. “Onne Port is a thriving Port competing favourably in revenue generation next to Lagos Ports” he said.
He commended the outgoing Port Manager, Alhassan Ismiala Abubakar for his contributions and achievement at Onne Port and solicited with HODs, other staff ,including Port users to extend such cooperation accorded his predecessor to take the Port to a greater heights.
Continuing, Dr. Dantsoho enjoined the workers to always be team player, noting that such is key to achieving a remarkable progress. He said, team work encourages all to learn from one another adding that Onne Port has made remarkable progress in areas of enhancement of efficiency, improved workers welfare and operational capabilities among others.
He however noted that NPA Onne is a success story and appealed all to work harder to boost more revenue generation even as he urged all to embrace M/D,Hadiza Bala Usman’s qualities of dedication to work, unwavering courage, sympathy and understanding while describing her as an epitome of professionalism.
He assured that under his administration, they will move Onne Port to a higher level.
In his remarks, Chairman, Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (NWUN ) Onne chapter, Comrade Jonah Chukwu, welcomed the Port Manager. He said Onne Port is a family Port where family bond is established leading to team work, revealing that as a new Port Manager ,he is inheriting assess and liabilities.
Assets in the area of committed and hardworking staff while liabilities in the area of welfare packages for staff.
Meanwhile, in a press interview after assuming office, the Port Manager, Dr. Abubakar Dantsoho said his vision amongst others is to improve the revenue generation of Onne Port saying that NPA management has invested a lot of funds to ensure improvement in efficiency of Onne port in the area of facilities, equipment and channel dredging, noting that the implication is to help generate more revenue.

B. Ejemeh Nchey-Achukwu (Mrs.)
Head, C&SC
Onne Port Complex

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Exclusive Interview: Izah Ogor,South-South Zonal Coordinator of NSC Speaks on Business in the Eastern Seaports

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Ogor Izah Nigerian Shippers Council

Interview with Ogor Izah, South-South Zonal Co-ordinator, Nigerian Shippers Council

The news of the arrival of the biggest ship to have ever berthed at Nigerian Seaport to us to the office of Izah Ogor, South-South Zonal Coordinator of Nigerian Shippers Council as we sought reactions from stakeholders to the welcome development.

An excited ZC of the port economic regulator, reeled out an avalanche of information as he spoke on a wide range of maritime issues.

FR News: Why do ship operators still prefer Lagos ports over the Eastern Seaports in spite of the loud complains of congestion, gridlock and overstretched facilities?

Izah:  The total port cost of doing business at the Eastern Seaports of Port Harcourt, Onne, Warri and Calabars are quite high making it impossible for some of these stakeholders to make meaningful profit in their businesses. This is why you may be surprised to see people living in Port Harcourt or even people living in Onne preferring to bring in their cargo through Lagos.

This port cost includes various items like unnecessary charges by the MDAs at the ports, frustrations arising from communal interventions, incessant extortions, roadblocks mounted by customs, double charges, piracy, and the issue of the shallowness of the channels.

The infrastructure in these areas are not in their best condition. However, the Onne Port is about the biggest in West Africa. So why are ships not coming there? It is because of the high port costs.

Averagely, by the time your cargo arrives, the total cost could be much higher than if you were to come through Lagos.

FR News: In spite all these issues you have mentioned, especially the much talked about issue of shallow and narrow water channels, the NPA recently celebrated the arrival of the biggest cargo ship to ever berth in a Nigerian seaport. Was this a miracle?

Izah: No, it was not a miracle. It is a response to the yearnings of stakeholders who have long complained of the state of affairs in the ports around here.

You remember that even in the middle of the congestion in Lagos, members of the National Assembly went to Lagos to see things and later advised the government to start diverting vessels to other ports. Progress was being made in this direction before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Like you said, two weeks ago, we woke up to the fanfare of the biggest ship ever to berth in any Nigerian port in Onne. This was an attempt by the NPA to assure stakeholders that vessels can actually come into this place.

What happened is this- we’ve been talking about the shallowness of the draft yet the ‘biggest ever’ came in- how?

The Port Harcourt and Onne Ports are located on creeks that enjoy tidal advantage- so the vessel was able to come in and leave taking advantage of the high tide. This means that even though the channels are yet to be dredged, the ship had an incidence of free voyage.

By this, the NPA had successfully demonstrated that it can be done- the rest is for ship owners to tell their customers in Aba, Onitsha and other places that they can now bring their cargo through here.

By this, the NPA had successfully demonstrated that it can be done- the rest is for ship owners to tell their customers in Aba, Onitsha and other places that they can now bring their cargo through here.

FR News: Can We say that this is a sign of a coming boom?

Izah: Definitely. I have been talking to my colleagues in the MDA on how to ensure more competitive and friendly ports. we are also strategizing to assure the shippers that it can be done.

FR News: As a regulatory agency, what has the Shippers Council been doing over the years to help increase the patronage of the eastern seaports?

Izah: After listening to several complaints of frustrations from stakeholders in this area, the Shippers Council severally met with the National Assembly on the state of infrastructure, the issue of piracy and extortion on the roads. For example, in Warri, after every cargo has been released, at the port gate you will see Egbesu boys demanding for money. But, following our complaints, the coordinating ministry has reached out to the National Assembly for legislative intervention.

If you can remember, around May last year, members of the National Assembly members visited the eastern seaports to find out why they were underutilized. As a result of this, the lawmakers began to proffer ways of redirecting vessels to the eastern seaports.

Also, when we observed the overlapping functions of most agencies at the ports, Shippers Council through the presidency initiated the Standards Operating Procedure (SOP) of all stakeholders in the ports- the customs, the Immigration, the Port Health, NIMASA, SON, NAFDAC etc. The SOP streamlined the activities/functions of each stakeholder agency in the port.

The Shippers Council has been able to talk with the leadership of the Nigerian Customs to remove most of the checkpoints on the road because we believe this will ensure free and seamless delivery of cargo.

 We’ve also spoken with the hierarchy of the police to encourage officers on the Highways to allow free flow of cargo.

During the COVID19 Lockdown, the Shippers Council was fully active to make sure all our ports were operational because despite the pandemic, medicine, food and other essential goods had to be delivered.

In Rivers State, the Shippers Council was busy sensitizing stakeholders to keep working despite the health situation to ensure delivery of goods from ships.

Shippers council intervened when the Rivers State government arrested some members of the maritime workers union over breach of lockdown order.

FR News: As a stakeholder, how do you rate the readiness of the Eastern Seaports for a possible surge in port activities?

Izah: We are ready. I believe all the stakeholders have fought so hard that they will want this place to work. As port economic regulators, we have embarked on sensitization of all other stakeholders by way of introducing the new opportunities offered by the NPA. While the customs, NIMASA, SON, Port Health, including the Shipping Trade among others are all willing to take advantage of the new initiative.

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