President Bola Tinubu’s administration is committed to ensuring Nigeria’s balance of trade with other nations toward strengthening the value of the Naira and creating employment in the country.
The nation’s maritime sector is pivotal to the actualization of the lofty policy, the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Mr Adegboyega Oyetola, said at the commissioning of the Mission to Seafarers (MTS) centre in Lagos.
“This is top on Mr. President’s policy agenda, and that given the pivotal role that the maritime sector plays in actualizing the noble objective, the Federal Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy, under his leadership, is determined to equip seafarers and all maritime workers with the enabling tools to tackle and overcome work-related challenges,’’ Persecondnews quotes Oyetola as saying.
He said the move is apt especially with increasing global competition, which has become imperative for nations to make conscious efforts to deepen the competitiveness of their ports.
“This is part of our concerted effort to ensure the maximization of the comparative advantages that our maritime resources present. The reconstruction of this MTS facility will undoubtedly scale up Nigeria’s rating in the global maritime community.
“I was highly elated when I received the report of the commissioning of this Seafarers’ Center by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).
“My joy is rooted in the realization that this purpose-built facility, designed to provide vital social, psychological, and emotional support to the crewmen and women who drive global trade in and out of Nigeria, signposts the seriousness of the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration in enhancing the maritime sector to add greater value to the national economy,” the minister said.
According to him, the inauguration of the facility is timely and very much in tandem with the economic goals of the present administration.
“I must commend the management of the Nigerian Ports Authority for their visionary intervention in transforming this facility, which I was told was in poor condition at the beginning of this year into a regional best-in-class that it is today.’’
He challenged all heads of maritime agencies to be more audacious and innovative in spearheading smart initiatives like this, which creates opportunities and open up new vistas of growth.
“You can be rest assured of my unflinching support towards the implementation of such initiatives. Let me remind all stakeholders that the sustainability of investments such as this rests heavily on how well we maintain them. I hope that the importance of this facility will not be lost on its users,” the minister, immediate past governor of Osun, said.
Speaking earlier, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of NPA, Malam Mohammed Bello-Koko, said with over 90 per cent of global trade which accounts for half of the world’s economic output constituting an important economic driver that helps to spur development and reduce poverty going by sea, every member of the maritime and indeed the global community is directly or indirectly a beneficiary of the service of seafarers.
He said: “So it makes sense to reserve well-furnished and equipped spaces such as this all over the world for seafarers to unwind and regain psychosocial balance.
“The decision to urgently reconstruct and fully equip the facility to acceptable global standards derives from its persuasion at the Authority that Shore Leave for Seafarers which this facility affords is a necessity and not a luxury.
“It is essential for this special category of men and women who spend weeks on end holed up with only work mates for company to get on shore to interact and access internet to contact family, seek welfare, to secure medical or psychological support if needed and to have a break from the work environment.’’
According to him, the partnership with the Mission to Seafarers and consequent development of this Seafarers Centre commissioning is a testament of its relentless commitment to advancing the fortunes of maritime trade and unleashing fresh opportunities for growth and prosperity inherent in Nigeria’s blue economy.
“With an estimated number of four thousand (4000) foreign flagged ships visiting our shores annually, which implies three hundred (300) vessels (or a minimum of 6,000 Seafarers) every month, it has become expedient that we intensify our collaborations with global institutions like the MTS to encourage Shore Leave and Crew Change and of course reap the concomitant benefits for coastal tourism and the projection of positive image and reputation for our dear nation.
“Already, we are witnessing improvements of inland traffic to and from our ports. These, coupled with developments in intermodal transportation
as occasioned by our advancing rail system, are bound to encourage and stimulate immense opportunities in the maritime ecosystem.”
He added that the combination of being a coastal nation and the sub-regional economic powerhouse as well as being the continent’s most populous nation with a youth population at about 60 per cent, compels Nigeria to take advantage of every opportunity to deepen its port competitiveness and rating to attract necessary opportunities to cater to the growing demography.
In his speech, the Chairman of Mission to Seafarers, Lagos, Chief Adebayo Sarumi, said the needs of seafarers have evolved from the provision of a base through which seafarers can contact their families, maintaining that the needs now involves advocacy for shore leave, legal assistance, counseling pastoral care and increasingly psychological support.
“We assure you as well as our other collaborating partners that your seed of support shall germinate into a glorious future for Nigeria for the subcontinent and for seafarers.’’