DG NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA has foreclosed compelling foreign shipping lines that call at Nigeria’s seaports to take some of the nation’s cadets on board their vessels, as part of efforts to clear the backlog of cadets, who have yet to undergo the mandatory one-year sea time training as prescribed by the International Maritime Organisation IMO.

The agency however says it has put measures in place that would enable it provide sea time training berths of more than 50 per cent of the nation’s cadets trained under the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme  NSDP before the end of December 2019.

Recall that there have been calls on the agency to either make it mandatory for owners of the over 5,000 foreign vessels comprising container, wet and dry bulk ships that call annually at Nigeria’s seaports to take Nigerian cadets for training or sign a form of bilateral agreement on the provision of training berths with a view to reducing the stock of Nigerian cadets seeking to undergo the mandatory training.

Director General of the agency, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, who spoke during a recent interview, said that the agency has no plans to do that considering that there is no law or regulation that backs such a policy.

According to him, such a policy may be at variance with some international regulations, arguing that a vessel that leaves a seaport in Europe, Asia or America may have to make stopovers at various seaports in the course of the voyage to its final destination, wondering how many cadets she would pick from the ports that she would call at.

*Some NSDP cadets

He however disclosed that the agency has done so much in the recent past, as several of such Nigerian cadets have been given opportunity to do their mandatory sea time training, pledging that it would not relent on such efforts in order to ensure that it achieves the 50 per cent projection for the training of NSDP cadets.

“We have done so well, especially in the last six months in terms of providing training berths for Nigerian cadets. We will not relent on these efforts and I assure you that by the end of this year, we would have provided training berths for over 50 per cent of cadets trained under the NSDP programme.

“There has been a remarkable improvement from where we used to be to where we are now. People may not appreciate what we are doing now until they see some of these cadets complete their training programmes and come back with their Certificate of Competency CoC and begin to secure jobs on board ocean going vessels”, the DG said.

Peterside also said that the agency was not considering deploying some Nigeria-flagged vessels for the cadets’ training, insisting that many of them are not ocean going, which makes them unsuitable for the sea time training.

He however assured that the agency would continue to maximise the available opportunities locally to provide training berths for the nation’s cadets, especially under the Coastal and Inland Shipping Cabotage regime.

Available statistics show that the agency has trained over 2, 500 cadets in the last few years under its second window of the NSDP programme, which it funds 100 per cent unlike the first window whereby some state governments provided 40 per cent of the total cost of training of their cadets while the agency provides the balance 60 per cent.