NIMASA begins rescue operation for crew of hijacked vessel … Assures NSDP cadets of sea-time training
DG NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA in conjunction with other relevant security agencies has commenced search and rescue operations for the abducted 12 crew members onboard MV GLARUS belonging to ALLISON Shipping with a view to ensuring their immediate unconditional and safe release. The vessel was hijacked off Bonny Island in Rivers State.
In another development, the Agency has also assured cadets of its pet project, the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme NSDP that it would leave no stone unturned in securing them sea-time training berths on board ocean going vessels, which would culminate in the award of Certificate of Competency CoC, as prescribed by the International Maritime Organisation IMO.
Speaking in Lagos Monday, Director General of the Agency, Dr. Dakuku Peterside disclosed that NIMASA is working round the clock closely with the Forward Operation Base FOB and the Falcon Eye of the Nigerian Navy along with other relevant security agencies with a view to ensuring the release of the crew members.
While condemning the act, the DG noted that the Agency is saddened about the attack and assured that NIMASA will not leave any stone unturned in the rescue mission. He also assured that the perpetrators of this act and others of its kind would be made to face the full wrath of the law.
“The issue of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea is a challenge we acknowledge and we are determined to tackle it head-on. We will continue to collaborate with the Nigerian Navy and other relevant partners to ensure we bring it to a halt. Zero tolerance to piracy and all forms of illegalities on our nation’s waterways is our goal”, the DG said.
Recall that NIMASA recently adopted total spectrum maritime security strategy which is a multidimensional approach that includes investment on intelligence and partnership with relevant security agencies to curb maritime related crimes. It also include building of Nigeria’s response capabilities with the use of Fast Intervention Vessels and the review of relevant laws, especially the Anti-piracy Bill, which will give the Agency the legal backing to prosecute issues relating to piracy on Nigeria’s waterways.
Meanwhile, the DG who addressed a group of NSDP beneficiaries that visited the Burma Road, Apapa headquarters of the Agency to express concerns over the certainty of their getting the sea-time training, noted that NIMASA is doing all it can to ensure all those who graduated through the scheme are duly enrolled on ocean-going vessels within the shortest possible time.
He also assured that in addition to the over 600 cadets who have benefitted so far from the sea time training, the Agency is working so hard to ensure that another batch of not less than 200 cadets are enrolled between now and the first quarter of 2019.
The DG said: “Sea-time training is your right and I assure you that none of you will be denied the mandatory sea-time training. On our part as an Agency, we value human capacity development, which is the hallmark of any economy that will thrive; hence we will not rest on our oars until we see you succeed.
“NIMASA is currently in discussions with some foreign institutions to place seafarers on board ocean-going vessels and in no distant time more cadets will be placed on board for their sea-time training. We are not training you to be placed onboard Cabotage vessels for only local trade; but rather, we are investing so much on you so that you can be placed onboard ocean-going vessels, which will put you on the same pedestal with your counterparts in the global maritime community, thereby giving you an edge to compete favourably”.
Peterside however commend the contributions of seafarers to the growth of the economy, expressing confidence that in no distant time, Nigeria will be a great exporter of seafarers on the African continent.
The Agency had in 2008 conceived the NSDP as a deliberate interventionist policy to ameliorate the dearth in certified and qualified seafarers and of course the depletion of seafarers in the country’s national pool due mainly to age and migratory instincts for greener pastures by seafarers. The NSDP scheme was flagged-off in September, 2009 to complement the full implementation of the Cabotage Act, 2003, which in itself is geared towards strengthening indigenous tonnage capacity with one of its cardinal objectives being that coastal vessels are to be exclusively manned by Nigerians.
The shortfall in certified and qualified seafarers in Nigeria remains serious reminder and wake-up call for the Agency, which the NSDP scheme has been addressing since its inception about nine years ago.
Available records show that out of the over 2,000 beneficiaries of the scheme, 340 cadets have already completed their sea-time training. In addition to this, 150 Cadets are undergoing the sea-time in Egypt and another 89 others are in the United Kingdom.