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Government to reposition maritime sector to attract investments

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The Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi has assured that the Federal Government will continue to pursue policies and programmes, which will make the maritime industry attractive to local and foreign investors.

He said the policies would also sustain the implementation of the International Maritime Organisations’ (IMO) instruments to ensure the safety, well-being and empowerment of seafarers in the country.

Amaechi stated this during the World Maritime Day celebrations, with the theme, “Seafarers: At the Core of Shipping’s Future,” held in Lagos State.

He said shipping and seafarers keep global commerce and trade running with over 50,000 merchant ships trading internationally and transporting every kind of cargo.

“The shipping industry is the most efficient mode of transportation and is responsible for over 90 per cent of everything we see around us including manufactured items or bulk transport of raw material. As a Maritime nation, shipping is strategic in our national planning in terms of national security, job creation and socio-economic stability,” he said.

Amaechi further noted that the government is concerned about the Seafarer Workforce Report, which warned that there could be a shortfall in officers by the year 2026.

He said currently, there are over 7,000 Seafarers on the Nigerian Seafarers Register, with the nation committed to achieving more.

The minister said in view of the emerging realities, more attention should be given to seafarers’ specialised training to be capable of performing expert tasks in their various fields of engagement onboard vessels.

He said the Federal Government is committed to ensuring that cadets undergo adequate sea time training, adding that the National Seafarers Development Program (NSDP) sponsored by NIMASA will be strengthened to intensify engagement with reputable shipping companies to achieve even higher output.

“To bridge the resource gap in seafaring, there is the need to actively promote careers at sea and enhanced maritime education and training to enhance the diverse skills needed for a greener and more digitally connected maritime industry.

“The real concerns and unresolved difficulties that could see seafarers turning away from careers in shipping must be addressed. Nigeria will continue to analyze and respond to trends in seafarer retention and regularly monitor the nation’s seafarer workforce, to ensure that the Standard of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) certified Seafarers keep pace with global demands,” he said.

Also speaking, the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, noted that Nigeria must take deliberate steps to optimise its rich maritime resources to consolidate the country’s status as a regional maritime hub.

The governor, who was represented by the Managing Director, Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA), Damilola Emmanuel, said Nigeria needs to consolidate her position as the maritime hub for West and Central Africa by fully harnessing her maritime resources and ensuring safety and security within its territorial waters and in the Gulf of Guinea.

Sanwo-Olu added that the maritime industry is a window to economic prosperity and national development of nations, adding that Lagos State has utilised its maritime status to foster national unity and cohesion as the Centre of Excellence.

In his address, the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh, said the country prioritised the welfare of seafarers and had continued to work in close adherence to standards set by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) with regard to their wellbeing.

Jamoh extolled the strategic role of seafarers in the global supply chain and commended IMO for focusing on seafarers’ welfare since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019.