Sea Sunday: MTS Lagos eulogises the unsung heroes
On this Sea Sunday, the Mission To Seafarers (MTS) Lagos, joins the global maritime community in celebrating seafarers and acknowledging their immense contributions to world commerce. Here are some notes taken;
Chief Adebayo Sarumi – Chairman, Management Committee of MTS Lagos
People always forget that seafarers face a lot of loneliness at sea. For example, when you are coming from China to Nigeria by ship, it can take you up to about two months and the seafarer cannot see land in those two months. His food has to be rationed; everything he needs has to be rationed, including water. He is surrounded by water, but not to drink. But this seafarer is always forgotten in the scheme of things, and that is why the world wants to try and celebrate him every year. And in particular, the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, which took its own from the Church of England, particularly from the colonial period. We have been taking to this from that time, and you know Lagos Port is very important port all over the world. In terms of international connections Lagos is very important and that is why lots of vessels visit Lagos every year. No less than 8000 ships come, and each of them has no less than 30 people who are working on it. Being on board a ship for such long time gives them mental torture, physical torture. So, when they come to shore they will expect they will be received. Sometimes they are not going to shores they know, they are going to foreign shores, and there must be waiting for them in those foreign shores welcome, smile, care, concern, friendship. MTS is therefore doing this all over the whole world; give them this care, mental and physical health, entertainment, ability to help them get in touch with their families back at home and know what is happening.
Princess Vicky Haastrup – Chairperson, Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN)
All import and export goods are carried by the sea, and we have a lot of wonderful people; men and women who have dedicated their lives to the seafaring job. So, it is very good to have a Mission where we recognise and appreciate them for the wonderful job that they do as seafarers, which is not an easy job. You and I are in the comfort of our homes enjoying our families, but the seafarers leave their families for months. Like the chairman of the MTS Lagos mentioned, some of them do have suicide tendencies because sometimes they may not have people outside the space of the ship to talk to. When you see seafarers when they berth in our port, you will really see that they are lonely. Once a while, when I enter into a ship and want to interact with them, they are very excited that they are talking to somebody, because for months they are away from their family. This is a laudable project to enable us support the seafarers one way or the other. So, wherever they go to, this is a wonderful Mission of the church and we have a place where they can rest and interact with people and have some recreation. So, this Mission is very important and that is why I am here to support them because I feel a sense of responsibility.
Rev. Engr. Emmanuel Ilori – Assistant Chaplain, MTS Lagos
For me, seafarers are the unsung heroes of the global economy. The Sea Sunday event is taking place globally. Actually it is being celebrated today at St. Paul’s Cathedral London, and Nigeria being a super nation, we are blessed that the Cathedral Church of Lagos is hosting the Sea Sunday. It shows the significance, importance that we hold to the seafarer; not only that they need prayers, they need support. If you know that the global economy will grind to a halt without the efforts of the seafarer, it shows how significant they are, but they are not recoginised, they are the unsung heroes. Everybody seems to forget that your clothes, your cars, even your food, without the seafarer you will not get it. So, that is why it is very significant for me, not just as a seafarer myself, but as part of the maritime community to bring to the fore the importance of these people in our economy. Unfortunately, even though Nigeria is still lagging in the international seafaring community, we must not forget those colleagues who come to our port; the challenges they face are significant. And then, we are putting so much emphasis on security and global security on the seas, but let us think about what the effects are on the seafarers themselves. We should think about them. Recently we are talking about increase in War Risk Insurance of goods coming to Nigeria, and the focus is on security. But on the other hand, it is seafarers who come to Nigeria and go back home to share a positive experience of coming to Nigeria that would make the difference. That will then begin to change the perception that Nigeria is not safe. Don’t forget, this issue of safety is what people experience, and when we begin to engage with the issues, some of the important people are the seafarers themselves. This would no doubt change the narration.
Madam Funmi Folorunsho – Secretary, MTS Lagos
Celebrating Sea Sunday brings to the attention of Nigerians the role of seafarers. The fact that foreign seafarers coming to our port give a report back to their home country and other ports that they stop at, about what they got in Nigeria, is important. And as it were, the seafarers calling at these ports could also be used to alter the image of a hostile environment for Nigeria.
Rev. Bimbo Aduroja – Chaplain, MTS Lagos
For me personally, it is a day that I appreciate the effort of the seafarers, because they contribute a lot to global economy, but little attention is being given to them. So, on a day like this when we appreciate them, talk about what they day, pray for them globally, I am always happy and look forward to the day every second week in July when we celebrate seafarers globally. Today, more than 200 stations globally are celebrating this same service.
The seafarers face so many hazards at sea; piracy, abandonment, and sometimes some of them are arrested unjustly. The Mission goes to visit them in prison, in hospital when they are ill. Sometimes, the ship owner commits an offence and goes his way while the crew members are arrested; leaving them to suffer for the sin they knew nothing about. These are some of the toughest things they deal with.