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Nigeria approves special COVID-19 package for seafarers

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NIGERIA yesterday joined the rest of other maritime nations across the globe to celebrate the 2020 edition of the annual Seafarers’ Day, commending their contributions to the growth of the nation’s economy.

  The United Nations has set 25th June of every year to commemorate and appreciate seafarers for the sacrifice and fatal risk they face in their efforts to sustain the global supply chain, even under the current COVID-19 pandemic that has killed scores of people across many nations of the world including Nigeria.

The theme of this year’s event, which is the 10th in the series is: “Seafarers are Key Workers: Essential to Shipping, Essential to the World” and with the hashtag #SeafarersAreKeyWorkers. This is essentially to recognise and appreciate the sacrifice and immense contributions of the seafarers across the world towards sustaining the global supply chain, especially under the pandemic in terms of delivering the foods, drugs and other essential needs to curtail the spread of the pandemic.

Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA),  Bashir Jamoh, who spoke during a Webex meeting to mark the event in Nigeria, appreciated the contributions and sacrifice of the seafarers in the country’s efforts to curtail the spread of the COVID-19 virus, which has left many dead in the country.

Jamoh noted that the seafarers are strategic to the growth and sustenance of Nigeria’s economy, being an import- dependent nation and a major exporter of crude oil, a development that has informed the commitment of the government and NIMASA to the welfare of the nation’s seafarers.

In that vein, the DG announced that the agency has approved a special COVID-19 welfare package for the Nigerian seafarers, which he argued was in line with NIMASA’s continuous zeal to ensure that their welfare is not geopardised in anyway.

While responding to stakeholders contributions at the virtual meeting, Dr. Jamoh assured that the agency was addressing all the issues around the Certificate of Competence CoC for the Nigerian seafarers to make them globally employable competitive.

He also assured that the agency was doing everything possible to upgrade the nation’s maritime universities and other institutes in terms of adhering to international best practice so that degrees or certificates awarded by them would match with those from institutions in the United Kingdom and other maritime training institutions across the world.

Also in attendance at the Webex meeting among many other maritime stakeholders was the agency’s Executive Director, Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services, Victor Ochei.

One of the stakeholders while contributing to the discourse on the need to ensure the welfare of the seafarers, noted that most workers es while the seafarers remained at sea, insisting they are frontline workers in the fight against the virus.

following the outbreak of the virus and the lockdown in many countries were made to work from their homes while the seafarers remained at sea, insisting they are frontline workers in the fight against the virus.

Recall that seafarers have remained on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic, playing an essential role in maintaining the flow of vital goods, such as food, medicines and medical supplies. However, the crisis has led to difficult working conditions for them, including uncertainties and difficulties about port access, re-supply, crew changeovers and repatriation.

Secretary-General of the IMO, Kitack Lim,  while speaking on the occasion highlighted the unique and essential work of seafarers: “Just like other key workers, seafarers are on the front line in this global fight. They deserve our thanks. But they also need and deserve quick and decisive social media. As in previous years, the Day of the Seafarer campaign is centered on social media.

“This year, the Day of the Seafarer campaign calls on member states to recognise seafarers as key workers and to provide them with the support, assistance and travel options open to all key workers during the pandemic.

“The 2020 Day of the Seafarer campaign pays tribute to seafarers, acknowledging their sacrifice and the issues they face. Many seafarers have been away from home for months and are unsure when they will be able to return home due to travel restrictions”

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