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Seafarers face uncertainty over wages, health issues

Seafarers Happiness Index (SHI) dropped significantly in the second quarter of 2021 as survey indicated that Mission to Seafarers (MTS) lacks capacity to address their challenges. According to MST’s survey, uncertainty over crew change and shore leave have driven the index to its lowest level since the start of the pandemic.

It added that the data fell in every category and there were clear indications that the ongoing issues relating to crew travel, uncertainty over leave,general happiness, workload, training, social life, shore leave, wages, food, health and universal ban on shore leave had taken a negative toll on seafarers.

Because of the low index rate, stakeholders in the Nigerian maritime industry have mobilised support to rebuild the Mission to Seafarers in Lagos with a view to reducing the sufferings of seafarers while they sail around the world to keep the global economy going. At the 2021 annual Sea Sunday Service in Lagos, the Bishop of the Lagos Diocese, Anglican Communion, Dr. Humphrey Olumakaiye, explained that the Mission to Seafarers in Lagos was not fully positioned to attend to the needs of seafarers that calls at the nation’s ports in their thousands annually.

He appealed for maritime stakeholders’ support to rebuild the heritage of the Mission to Seafarers in Lagos and provide services to them when they call at the Nigerian, particularly the Lagos ports. Also, the Chairman of the Management Committee of the Mission to Seafarers, Chief Adebayo Sarumi, said that if the seafarers stop work today, the world will come to an end. He explained that seafarers work under extreme difficult situations and that was why they were being celebrated to let the world know the hazard of their work.

The Assistant General Manager, Maritime and Operation, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Capt Jerome Angyuwne, said that seafarers do their work in isolation of the world, adding that he was very touched with the Mission to Seafarers support to the sailors. He said: “With the issue of security all over the world, the seafarers are suffering in isolation, getting attacked, getting kidnapped and getting killed.

So, with a body like Mission to Seafarers looking after the welfare of seafarers, they have a lot of responsibilities.’’ Meanwhile at the global level, there is fear by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO) in their Seafarer Workforce Report that there would be serious shortage of seafarers by 2026 as workloads appear to be on the rise, with many seafarers reporting 11- 12-hour days instead of eight to nine hours.

They noted that the growing demand for standards of training, certification, and watchkeeping (STCW) certified officers could mean that 89,510 officers would be required by 2026 to operate the world merchant fleet. The seafarer workforce report estimated that 1.89 million seafarers currently serve the world merchant fleet, operating over 74,000 vessels. According to the published data, there is also a current shortfall of 26,240 STCW certified officers, indicating that demand for seafarers in 2021 has outpaced supply. It said: “There is a shortage of officers with technical experience, especially at the management level. In the tanker and offshore sectors, there is a reported shortage of management level deck officers,” the report reveals.

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