The chairman of the Nigerian Ports Consultative Council (NPPC), Otunba Kunle Folarin has raised the alarm that 4000 Nigerian cadets are roaming the streets without seatime.
He disclosed this in a chat with journalists recently in Lagos.
He advised that the only way for the current administration to solve the seatime issue is for the current administration to use the last year of the current dispensation to look at issue of manpower development in the sector.
“This administration must use the last leg of the administration to look at issue of manpower development particularly the issue of young people that have graduated from Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron and those studying maritime navigation and engineering.
“The cadets have been unable to have fulfilment in having competence because of lack of sea time that is a minus because we can’t have about 4,000 Nigerians roaming the streets looking for seatime opportunities or looking for work and unfortunately for these young people, you can’t have competence without seatime so that is an issue,” he queried.
When asked whether the administration can find solutions to lack of seatime by Nigerian seafarers, Otunba Folarin was optimistic of miracle happening before the end of the present administration.
“Well, miracles do happen and if it happens, it’s one of the miracles we are looking at. NIMASA has started to give some of them seatime opportunity but then, we have a large number of young people involved going to about 4000 and if you can give opportunity to only 200 then it’s a tip of the iceberg.
“There should be a legitimate policy to address these issues. Severally we have canvased for arrangements with all ships calling at Nigerian ports to take at least one Nigerian cadet for training. For instance, We have about 5000 ships calling yearly, then taking one cades mean we have gotten rid of 5000 cadets searching for seatime.
“What about acquiring ships for this purpose I don’t say we should run it as National Shipping Line but we should give it to ship managers to run. There are many of them who are experienced all over the world. We need to tackle these issues because the nation cannot spend billions of naira training these people and allowing them go to Devil’s workshop,” he advised.
Folarin also expressed mixed feelings over development in the nation’s maritime industry in the last three years of the present administration.
He further stated that the foreign exchange regime at the beginning of the present administration affected the growth of the industry.
He also disclosed that the forex regime which also affected in no small measure the number of vessels that called at the ports at the first few years of the administration affected the capacity of importers, volume of cargoes and activities at terminals.
“The foreign exchange regime at that time affected capacity of Nigerian importers from importing cargoes at variable terms.
That affected the volume of cargoes that entered this country and activities at the terminals also the numbers of ship traffic that the country handles at this period.
“The maritime sector has enough capacity but not been active as much as we expect.” He continued, “Secondly, the government has been able to look at the problem of the National carrier which is strategic for building capacity for indigenous shipping in our economy but that has failed to suffice for various reasons.”