Nigeria prioritises seafarers’ welfare, flays Lloyd’s continuance of war risk insurance

  • NIMASA Executive Director, Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services, Victor Ochei (left), representative of Director, Maritime Safety and Security, Ministry of Transportation, Imam Aminu, NIMASA Director-General, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, and representative of the Minister of Transportation, Augustine Makama, during the 2021 Day of the Seafarer in Lagos

By Anthony Nwachukwu

Nigeria, having classified seafarers as essential service providers, has tasked ship owners and other maritime industry stakeholders to device creative means of ensuring improved welfare for seafarers, while proffering permanent solutions to issues that affect their work.

In his address at the 2021 Day of the Seafarer in Lagos over the weekend, with the theme, “Fair Future for Seafarers,” the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, extolled seafarers across the world for their enormous contributions to global commerce and economy.

Seafarers “contend with perils of the seas and sometimes put their lives on the line just to ensure that goods are safely delivered at designated ports. This is one of the reasons we celebrate the seafarers every year,” he said.

Therefore, “as we celebrate the seafarers’ day, let us further identify and proffer workable solutions to the issues that will still be relevant to the seafarers after the pandemic, such as fair treatment, living and working conditions of the seafarers.”

Highlighting their harrowing experiences, especially at the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic last year, Amaechi disclosed that “Nigeria, as a member-state of the IMO, was one of the first countries to declare seafarers essential workers in order to ease their sufferings.”

He assured that Nigeria, “through the Ministry of Transportation and its agencies, will continue to ensure that government policies are tailored towards improving the welfare and working conditions of the seafarers in line with international standard and statutory conventions.”

Reiterating government’s commitment to the safety and security of Nigeria’s maritime domain for seafarers working on ships transiting through the waterways, Amaechi said the recently launched integrated maritime security architecture was “to help combat these maritime criminalities that hinder the security of crew members.”

Similarly, the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh, insisted that the war risk insurance premium charged on cargo headed for the Gulf of Guinea be reconsidered in line with the rapidly improving security conditions in the region.

Following the body’s acknowledgement of improved security in the region as a result of Nigeria’s efforts, he had requested Lloyd’s List Intelligence – a specialist business information service dedicated to the global maritime community – to review the high insurance, but the body declined it.

According to Jamoh, “it is significant that critical stakeholders in the world shipping community, like Lloyd’s List, are recognising Nigeria’s efforts to make the Gulf of Guinea safe and secure for seafarers and ships.”

However, “it would be unfair for the world to sidestep such huge investment and commitment to maritime security and retain the high war risk insurance premium on ships bound for our waters.”

Describing its continuance as a disservice to Nigeria and investors in its maritime environment, Jamoh argued that “since the world now acknowledges our commitment to maritime security and the recent improvements, it is only fair that relevant stakeholders should begin to rethink the charges that predated such efforts.

“The poor masses of this country should not be made to pay for the actions of a few individuals bent on tarnishing Nigeria’s image.”

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