Mission to Seafarers Symposium: States, industry stakeholders seek priority attention for seafarers’ welfare

The governors of Lagos and Ondo states as well as maritime industry stakeholder who gathered on Thursday for the Mission to Seafarers Lagos symposium sought adequate attention for welfare of seafarers in Nigeria.

All present at the symposium themed ‘Maritime Industry and Development of Nigeria – Connecting with our Heritage’ acknowledged the vital role that seafarers play in enabling global commerce and the nation’s economy, even as they do so through tough conditions.

Speaking in that vein, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, represented by the Commissioner for Transportation, Dr. Frederick Oladeinde, affirmed the key contributions of seafarers in the socio-economic life of the state, as an indispensable driver.

“The maritime sector has always been a critical factor in the socioeconomic, physical and infrastructural growth and development of the global economy. It is on record that the earliest recorded commercial transactions across nations were carried out through maritime trade.

“It is therefore my pleasure to join the Chairman, Mission to Seafarers in Lagos, Chief Adebayo Sarumi, the management and members of the Mission in Lagos at this years’ maritime.

“It is significant that you have chosen to honor Lagos State, a Littoral state that accounts for a substantial portion of the maritime industry in Nigeria and the ECOWAS sub-region. Lagos State with a physical land size of about 4,000 square kilometers is largely surrounded by water.

“The aquatic potentials available in Lagos exposed the state to intercontinental trade very many years ago and this has contributed in making it the cosmopolitan city that attracts people and trade from across the world.

“There is the urgent need for us as a government to address the needs and challenges of developing a virile maritime sector that will boost socioeconomic growth and development for the benefit of our people and regional integration of countries that are landlocked.

“The maritime industry is a veritable wealth generation and job creation platform which has continued to benefit many people including seafarers, merchant vessel operators, ship chandlers, import and export cargo brokers, among many other available and emerging opportunities.

“Our administration places a premium on the opportunities available to the state due to its littoral status and we have developed strategies, programmes and initiatives that will ensure the provision of adequate infrastructure and services to enhance maritime trade and transportation in Lagos State.

“Indeed, water transport and commercial operation is a major factor in our administration’s change agenda, and it is therefore critical that we sustain our stakeholder relationship between our administration in Lagos State and the Mission to Seafarers organisation,” he said.

In his contribution, the Ondo State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu SAN, represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Princess Oladunni Odu, also recognised and appreciated seafarers for the work they do.

He also noted that conscious efforts must be done to duly give seafarers the recognition they deserve, considering the hazards of their jobs and the fact that they have to stay away from home often for long time.

“On daily basis, we benefit from your output and it is on record that 90% of world food, fuel, raw materials and manufactured goods are delivered by sea. Hence, the services of the seafarers are critical to these resources.

“We must therefore, thank you for running the global economy, risking your lives, leaving your families in order to satisfy us, daring various hazards and displeasures that come your way while carrying out your mandate which is germane to our survival.

“We thank you for your patriotic duties to us. It is, however, unfortunate that the maritime industry which is a critical sector of our economy that is playing a pivotal role in stabilizing and ensuring regional and national economic advancement through its daily engagement has not been given the true recognition it deserves,” Odu said.

In his contribution as President of the Nigerian Association of Master Mariners, Captain Tajudeeen Alao, thanked the management committee of the MtS in Lagos, for efforts to make seafarers comfortable when they are Nigeria.

Alao said when the project is completed and operational, seafarers would share their experiences to their home countries and it would be a credit to Nigeria in Maritime world.

His words: “As a seafarer between 20 and 40  forty years ago, moving  around the word, we have the opportunity of quality welfare, being lodged in Stella Maris; Liverpool, Greece, Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong. But in Nigeria, we saw how things kept degenerating until it finally died.

“So, I want to commend the current management of the MtS in Lagos, led by Chief Sarumi, for what they are doing to bring up the MtS in Lagos. It will melting pot for all of us, the navy, the foreign seafarers coming to Nigeria.

“Please, let us come together your excellences, heads of agencies to build this place up, because it will sell Nigeria to the outside world, when seamen of different nationalities come to Lagos and they are able to take a nice bus to take them to the centre in Marina and they get some comfort.”

Earlier in his welcome address, Chief Adebayo Sarumi, Chairman of the management committee of the Mission to Seafarers, Lagos, told the gathering that the essence of the symposium was to inform members of the public about the importance of seafarers, the plight they also face on duty line.

He, therefore, called on concerned stakeholders and other individuals to be sensitive to the need of the seafarers, whose activities drive 90 per cent of global trade.

“The major reason we have been asking distinguished people as you to know what we are doing is to be able to have the buying-in of virtually every sector of the Nigerian economy, to know the importance of the seafarers in enabling trade.

“The essence of this symposium is to inform the public about what the seafarers do. We have to look into the welfare of the seafarers. The seafarers we all know by now are the people who work on ships and these are people that carry trade round the whole world.

“And when we say trade, it is exchange of goods and services. They are the ones that carry them round the whole world. They are not the only ones but they carry 90% of it, maybe airlines carry the remaining.

“These individuals, even though they are extremely essential workers in the entire world, are not treated with the amount of respect, the amount of consideration, with the amount of care that should go to such people who keep the entire world economy running and our duty and all other 200 stations around the world in not less than 56 countries, is to call attention locally and internationally to the plight of these people and to see how we can prevent them from continuing to suffer as they work in the best interest of the world trade,” he said.


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