Central to the Cabotage regime is the principle of enhancing local involvement in the crewing of vessels operating within Nigerian waters.
NIMASA has been dedicated to ensuring that Nigerian seafarers are placed on board Cabotage vessels, aligning with its role in placements and the provisions of the Cabotage Act of 2003.
A significant stride has been made in this regard, as applications for Cabotage crew placements now come with the stipulation that all foreign crew, particularly Ratings on vessels, must be replaced with Nigerian seafarers or cadets within a period of two to three weeks of commencing operations. As a result, a total of 539 Nigerian seafarers have been recommended for such replacements in the initial quarter of 2023.
Under the leadership of Dr. Bashir Jamoh, NIMASA, in the current administration, achieved the placement of 3,705 seafarers on Cabotage vessels in 2021, followed by 7,238 seafarers in 2022, and an additional 1,013 seafarers from January to July 2023. This cumulative effort has led to the successful placement of 11,956 Nigerian seafarers on Cabotage vessels between January 2021 and July 2023.
Streamlining administrative processes, NIMASA has digitized the registration and documentation procedures. The establishment of the e-registration platform facilitates the online and real-time registration of maritime labor participants such as seafarers, dockworkers, maritime labor employers (including shipping companies, manning/crewing agents, stevedoring companies, and terminal operators), as well as various operators in the maritime sector. This digitalization aims to enhance efficiency and accuracy while also serving as a valuable database for statistical analysis, national planning, policy formulation, and research purposes. The intention is to host this e-registration platform on the NIMASA website.
In addition, the years 2021 and 2022 saw the registration of 3,219 and 3,619 seafarers, respectively, with 1,176 registrations recorded from January to July 2023. In the same timeframe, the issuance of MLC, 2006 certificates amounted to 24 in 2021, 49 in 2022, and 63 from January to July 2023. Consequently, a total of 8,014 seafarers were registered from 2021 to 2023 (January to July), with 136 MLC, 2006 certificates issued after inspections during the same period.
Furthermore, a total of 65 stevedoring companies, 26 terminal/jetty operators, and 1,395 dockworkers were duly registered between 2021 and 2023 (January to July).
In 2008, NIMASA initiated the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) with the primary objective of training Nigerian youths as seafarers and Naval Architects, contributing to the enhancement of maritime capacity. This program was designed to provide comprehensive education up to degree level in Marine Engineering, Nautical Sciences, and Naval Architecture at select Maritime Training Institutions (MTIs) abroad.
The aim was to equip beneficiaries with the skills to effectively compete in the global maritime industry and contribute to the growth of Nigeria’s maritime sector.
Notably, in December 2022, NIMASA sent off 235 Nigerian youths to India and Greece as Batch B of a total of 435 young Nigerians to be trained under the NSDP as Licensed Deck and Engine Officers, including Naval Architects. This batch followed an earlier sponsorship of 200 individuals under Batch A.
During this initiative, NIMASA Director-General Dr. Bashir Jamoh, highlighted the importance of mutual recognition of Certificate of Competency (CoC) in collaboration with countries that support this understanding, which influenced the selection of training institutes for beneficiaries. It’s also noteworthy that NIMASA has succeeded in providing “seatime” experience for all NSDP beneficiaries, laying the foundation for them to earn foreign currencies and contribute to the nation’s remittances.