Capt. Warredi Enisuoh, Former Director, Shipping Development, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) on Thursday, said the country is saddled with shortage of recognised seafarers’ certificate holders.
Enisuoh disclosed this at an online programme on the topic, ” Bridging the Manpower Gap in Seafaring: Weighing Available Options and Solutions.”
He said there was need to have a database of registered seafarers, registered ships with their manning requirements and registered Nigerian companies that own ships.
“Unless we see these data, we cannot conclude that we have a shortage of seafarers. We may be short of specialized training such as Special Vessels Requirements. This does not amount to shortage of seafarers.
“Shortage of Seafarers should also not be mistaken in an environment where you charter a ship from outside the country, and the flag state of that ship doesn’t recognize the certificate you issue.
“In other words, a Nigerian certificate holder cannot work onboard a Singaporean flag ship operating in Nigerian waters as Singapore doesn’t recognize certification from Nigeria, in this case, what we have is shortage of recognised seafarers’ certificate holders,” he said.
He added that what was required was serious in-house cleaning, getting good professional advice and following the recommendations of the professionals
He pointed out that at the moment, there was too much politics in the industry, advising that this should be changed with professional input.
Enisuoh noted that the downside of a country certification processes and procedures not meeting the required standards was that vessels crewed by your flag, may not attract good value cargoes that would keep the shipping business afloat
“This is one of the many reasons killing our shipping and preventing new entrants from succeeding
“If the option of doing the right thing is impossible, another option is for you to invest heavily in your own flag and put your products onboard.
“Recognised or not, nobody will disturb you,” he said.
He also said, if the country kept going to charter other flags, they would have to comply with their requirements and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) requirements which Nigeria was signatory to.
He said some countries accept bilateral recognition by mare application and mutual acceptance.
“Naturally, they are usually weak flags. Strong flags like Australia, Singapore would require a thorough audit of your Maritime Administration (MARAD) and your Maritime Training Institutions (MTI’s).
He said these include: courses, examination procedures and marking schemes, training facilities and environment, sizes of classrooms, teaching aids, record keeping, students to Instructor Ratio, cassroom ratio, learning aids ratio and others.
Enisuoh noted that the process was rigorous, and that it was why some administrations prefer to stay below the radar. But it would not help technically.
“The best is always to subject yourself to frequent audits and judiciously/religiously follow the recommendations towards addressing the gaps. That is the only way one can stay on top of the game.
“Once recognition is given, it means your standards are at par, subject to periodic audits. Your certificate holders can now work on their flag ships.
“Ghanaian certificate holders enjoy a lot of these privileges and that’s why a lot of our students opt for Ghanaian Certificates. Another good thing is you can obtain higher certificates in the countries recognising yours,” he said.