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Nigeria does not lack seafarers but shortage of recognised certificate holders – Capt. Enisuoh

Segun Oladipupo

A former Director in the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Captain Warredi Enisuoh has said that Nigeria does not have shortage of seafarers but shortage of recognised certificate holders.

He said this at an online  platform on the topic: BRIDGING THE MANPOWER GAP IN SEAFARING: WEIGHING AVAILABLE OPTIONS AND SOLUTIONS on Tuesday.

Enisuoh said many people have erroneously described Nigeria as a nation with shortage of seafarers, saying what Nigerian seafarers lack is internationally accepted certificates.

The former Director, Shipping Development, NIMASA said, “You have to start with a database of registered Seafarers, registered ships with their manning requirements and registered Nigerian companies who 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  DP, 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 order words, a Nigerian certificate holder cannot work onboard a Singaporean flag ship operating in Nigerian waters as Singapore doesn’t recognize certification from Nigeria.

He averred that the country could get to the level of the countries with internationally recognised certificates if self auditing and professional advice is adhered to.

His words, “What we require is SERIOUS IN HOUSE CLEAN. Get good professional advice and follow the recommendations of the professionals

“At the moment, there’s too much politics in the industry. WE HAVE TO TONE DOWN IN EXCHANGE FOR PROFESSIONAL INPUT

“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. Recognized or not, NOBODY WILL DISTURB YOU.

“But if you keep going to charter other flags, you have to comply with their requirements and the IMO Requirements which Nigeria is signatory to.

“The downside of your certification processes and procedures not meeting the required standards is that vessels crewed by your flag, may not attract good value cargoes that will keep your shipping business afloat

“This is one of the many reasons killing our shipping and preventing new entrants from succeeding

“Some countries do accept bilateral recognition by mare application and mutual acceptance. Naturally, they are usually weak flags. Strong flags like Australia, UK, Singapore, etc would require a thorough audit of your Maritime Administration (MARAD) and your Maritime Training Institutions (MTI’s). These include but not limited to:

1. Your courses
2. Your examination procedures
3. Your examination marking schemes
4. The training facilities
5. The training environment
6. Sizes of your classrooms
7. Teaching Aids
8. Record keeping
9. Students to Instructor Ratio
10. Students to Classroom Ratio
11. Students to Learning Aids Ratio
12. Your Certification process
13. The security of your processes
14. The qualification of your Lecturers/Instructors
15. The qualifications of your Maritime  Administration Staff
16. The experience of your Maritime Administration Staff
17. The processes of how you recruit your Maritime Administration Staff.
18. Your plans for filling vacated positions in the Maritime Administration as qualified personnel are not easy to come by
19. Etc

“It’s rigorous and that’s why some Administrations prefer to stay below the radar. But it won’t help you technically.

“The best is always to subject yourself to frequent audits and judiciously/religiously follow the recommendations of towards addressing the gaps. THAT’S THE ONLY WAY YOU CAN STAY ON TOP OF THE GAME

“Once they give you that recognition, 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 recognizing yours. Example, you can use your Officer Of the Watch (OOW), to secure and sit for higher certification in those countries,” he stated.

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