Seafarers lament unemployment, blame Cabotage Act

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.

The President of the union, Bob Yousou, in a statement, blamed influx of foreign counterparts as the reason for unemployment in the sector.

Yousou, however, called on the Federal Government to promote local content and the Cabotage Act as part of efforts to reduce foreign dominance in the nation’s maritime sector.

“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.”

Yousou, while highlighting some of the challenges faced by Nigerian seafarers, reiterated that the union would continue to support policies of the government.

He, nevertheless, decried the delay in wages of Nigerian seafarers by their respective employers, ship owners, and manning agents, describing 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.

Article first published on the Punch Website

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