By Oko Ebuka
A group of seafarers in the Nigerian maritime industry have expressed their dissatisfaction over injustice and unnecessary extortions they encounter in the hands of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, as it limits them from having access to proper benefits meant for seafarers.
The protest which took place inside the premises where NIMASA was commemorating the seafarers’ day celebration 2019, showed the protesters with placards indicating their highlighted interests.
Speaking to Vanguard Maritime Report, the group’s spokesperson, Mr. Ayodele Adeshola said that NIMASA is charging them fees comparing their counterparts in other nations which prevent them from getting their outright benefits as seafarers.
According to him, “we are the seafarers. We are the grassroots for the seafarers, the Ratings. We are suffering. The way NIMASA treating us Ratings is unfair; they have not been carrying the Ratings along because in terms of welfare, it is so low compared to other of our colleagues internationally.
“Our wages is so low, the way they treat us on-board through act of discrimination among Nigerians and foreigners.
“Also, some other policies introduced by NIMASA affecting us is the endorsement of discharge as they collect N3, 650 unlike in High Court which collects N500 for the same endorsement.
“And we can’t get the endorsement in court because of our profession requires a body like NIMASA to endorse it as they are in control of the seafarers while court is for the public.
He further disclosed that the group is not happy with the awful treatment they are getting from NIMASA concerning their medical certificates which is very essential before gaining entrance on-board.
“In terms of medical, our medical fee is so high, NIMASA collects N30, 000 for medical and without the medical you can’t go on-board and sometimes the medical certificate is not available even after going for the medical therefore denying you the seafaring privileges in so many ways.
“At the same time, they have introduced so many things that are depriving us to go on-board such as watch keeping. Watch keeping exam, they are writing it quarterly instead of monthly and if you eventually miss this exam because of one issue or another, you will pay another fee for it.
“All these things are affecting us and they are part of our agitations today.”
He however, pleaded for NIMASA’s intervention through dialogue for the issues to be resolved.
“Today is a seafarers’ day in which we need to deliberate on the affairs of the seafarers, but NIMASA has taken over the day.
“This celebration is a mere political gathering as the real seafarers whom should be celebrated are being sidelined by the agency.
“We are soliciting for them to reduce all these prices and dialogue with us Ratings so that they will know what we are passing through on-board and understand what our pain is”, he concluded.