Anti-piracy Act will bring succour to seafaring industry- NIMASA

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has expressed confidence that the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences (SPOMO) Act, popularly known as Anti-piracy Act, which was signed into law in June 2019,  would bring a much-needed relief in terms of security to the seafaring industry.

Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, made the expression on Thursday, while speaking at a virtual meeting  organised by the Mission to Seafarers (MTS) Lagos.

The DG , who was represented by the Director of Maritime Labour Services, Ibrahim Jubril, said until now the sector suffered as a result of pirates activities, which affected seafarers, who sometimes suffered double jeopardy of arrests and imprisonment.

He said: “Unfortunately, activities of pirates have greatly affected our seafarers over the years, and unfortunately nothing was done to the extent that our seafarers were being criminalised and even imprisoned.

“But now, the anti-piracy law that has been put in place. Primarily, I believe this will be a succour for the seafaring industry in Nigeria, and we will be able to address this criminal activities happening on our waters properly in proper court of law. We believe that within this law, the seafarer would be protected as well.”

Speaking on efforts to enable crew travel, he said NIMASA had been proactive, having reached out to the task force on Covid-19 to enable seafarers easy movement: “We came up with Marine Notice and gave a step-by-step guidelines on how shipowners and seafarers would be able to travel to board ships and disembark from ships this pandemic period.

“We contacted the Presidential Taskforce Team on Covid-19 on seafarers’ repatriations, and that was how we were able to get the status of essential workers for the seafarers.”

On other measures by NIMASA to ensure seafarers welfare, the DG said they had on several occasions mediated between shipowners and seafarers, and that such efforts had been rewarding to the seafarers.

“We have in different instances negotiated and got good welfare arrangement for seafarers. And in instances when they were being criminalised, we succeeded in exonerating them by bringing the parties together, and we will continue to do that until cases go beyond our arbitration approach,” he added.

Other industry stakeholders including marine engineers and shipowners made contributions in areas of effort to ensure seafarers’ welfare, just as some of them highlighted challenges facing the seafarers and possible ways to getting solutions.

The Webinar themed “Seafarers Welfare: Are We Missing The Boat?” was moderated by Chief Adebayo Sarumi, the Chairman of the Mission in Lagos.

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