The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, has said that the delay in sending cadets of its National Seafarers Development Programme, NSDP, to sea time training was not related to the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, with the foreign training institutions or payment to them.
Disclosing this in a chat with newsmen in Lagos at the official opening of the Command Control Computer Communication and Information System (C4i) by the Agency in Lagos, Executive Director of Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services, Ahmed Sambo, said the delay was as a result of scarcity of spaces for sea time training.
Sambo said NIMASA has been able to increase the number of seafarers in the country by ensuring the completion of sea time training for the cadets who are sitting for Certificate of Competency, CoC, which qualifies them as seafarers.
According to him, most countries are reluctant to place foreigners onboard their vessels preferring to give such spaces to their nationals.
He stated: “I would not say there was a delay, we have always been willing. We have trained several hundreds of our cadets both locally and internationally, and you can google this. Sea time berth is not easy to come by, so it is not a matter of making payments, it is a matter of getting space. The training is done onboard vessels, the training is done on ships that are sailing around the world and these ships do not belong to Nigerians neither do they belong to NIMASA.
“Initially we tried to get the ship owners and that has not come easy because they only have a few spaces and for every country we go to, they have the same problem. For example, if we go to Singapore and ask Singaporeans to give us spaces they would ask why should we give Nigerians spaces when they have not given Singaporeans.
“So we have always been working at it, we have gone round everywhere to see where we can get any space we can. Even this signing of the agreement (the MoU) is not of recent. Last year we had one with Arab Academy in Egypt, we had another with maritime academy United Kingdom, U.K.
“Arab Academy took 150 people for sea time training, they are about to finish now and would soon be sitting for Certificate of Competency, CoC exams. What we are thinking of right now is to put additional100 cadets from Arab Academy another 100 through Maritime Academy, U.K.”
“We are negotiating with an institution in Turkey; we also have one in India. We even have some institutes here that are collaborating with other people and they are creating spaces for 40 people. Nonetheless, space is the issue; we have to have the space to put the cadets on. It is not about payments, it is about opportunities.”
“We have gone round and round seeking for opportunities even the ship owners know,” NIMASA said.
“They know what the challenges are, the Chinese themselves know. I have spoken to them. But after waiting for about three years frustration has set in for the cadets,” he noted.