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“Why we don’t celebrate World Maritime Day in Nigeria”

By Nneka Nwogwugwu

World Maritime Day is an annual celebration founded by the United Nations (UN) in collaboration with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) that celebrates the contribution that the maritime industry makes towards the world’s overall economy.

Without the international transportation of goods which is facilitated by those in the maritime industry, the world’s economy would be unable to function. This is a fact which is overlooked by many, with World Maritime Day being organised to help address this issue.

The IMO has been responsible for choosing the World Maritime Day 2021 theme which will be “Seafarers: At the Core of Shipping’s Future”.

As ever, the focus of this is to increase awareness of the invaluable work that seafarers do to keep the worldwide economy afloat.

This year, recognition is more deserved than ever before on account of the COVID-19 pandemic which has presented many challenges to seafarers.

International travel restrictions, lack of shore leave and crew changes are just some of the difficulties which have afflicted seafarers due to this unprecedented situation.

In line with this, NatureNews, spoke to a maritime worker in Port Harcourt on the challenges and growth of the maritime industry in Nigeria.

The worker who spoke in anonymity on Sunday, stated that no worker in the industry is comfortable celebrating World Maritime Day annually.

He decried that there are a lot of challenges facing the industry.

He informed that poor salary and embezzlement of funds are major challenges facing the industry.

He said, “Well, the world is celebrating maritime because of the impact marine industries have created in people’s life in advance countries.

“But in Nigeria, poor salary is our major challenge. For example, let’s use an orange fruit as an analogy. Orange is likened to be the salary of expatriates  in Nigeria while half of the orange is  supposed to be for Nigerian Maritime workers salary, according to Nigeria local content,  which is monitored and regulated by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, (NIMASA).

“But that half of the orange is divided into four places, then quarter of that four is our Nigerian Maritime workers salary and the other three side goes to the Nigerian company owners and the Head of government regulators. This is the reality for Nigerian workers.

“The only people who benefit from Maritime in Nigeria are the people who work in Total, Mobile, Agip and Chevron . And the worst  thing  there is that if this Nigerians who have worked in those  foreign companies become  company owners or a head in Nigeria governmental regulatory bodies, there begin to implement policies that make the industry become worst.”

He went further to say, “that’s why we don’t grow in Nigeria. A worker will work for the period of 6 years but will not have something to show for it. But in broad somebody can project to work in maritime for 5 years and choose to resign in order to use the proceeds to establish businesses for himself. In Nigeria, the salary will be taken by  Nigerian indigenous companies and  also will not even be enough.”

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