Seafarers, under the auspices of the Nigeria Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transport Senior Staff Association, say lack of enforcement and implementation of the Cabotage Act by regulatory agencies has resulted in unemployment in the industry.
In a statement, the union’s president, Bob Yousou, blamed the entry of international colleagues for the sector’s unemployment.
Yousou, on the other hand, urged the Federal Government to promote local content and the Cabotage Act in order to limit foreign domination in the nation’s marine industry.
“The government should checkmate the influx of foreign seafarers into the nation’s maritime space. Lack of enforcement and implementation of the Cabotage Act by regulatory agencies has resulted in unemployment.”
While noting some of the issues encountered by Nigerian seafarers, Yousou reaffirmed that the union will continue to support the government’s policies.
Nonetheless, he condemned the late payment of salaries to Nigerian sailors by their various employers, ship owners, and manning agents, referring to such practices as slavery.
The president explained that while foreigners engaged in the nation’s territorial waters got paid conformably, their local counterparts were not treated equally.
“An average Nigerian worker‘s standard of living is poor. The nonexistence of a collective bargaining agreement for seafarers in most shipping companies is discouraging. We must be united to fight our common enemies – the slave master of our time. We use this opportunity to request that the Federal Government of Nigeria consider floating a national carrier. With a national carrier, cadets can have sea time training, carry Nigeria cargoes and reduce capital flight,” he concluded.