FG urged to domesticate Maritime Labour Convention

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LAGOS, JUNE 26, 2016 – Maritime activities closed on Saturday with the Chairman, National Seafarers Welfare Board, Chief Kunle Folarin urging the Federal Government to ensure that the International LabourOrganisation (ILO) Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) 2006 “is domesticated”.

Folarin made the plea in an interview in Lagos as Nigeria joined the rest of the world to mark the Seafarers Day usually observed on June 25.

He, however, expressed regret that the National Assembly had not domesticated the convention.

According to Folarin, the ILO, MLC 2006 Convention is clear about the provision of welfare for seafarers both on-shore and off-shore

“Ship owners and government must provide on-shore and off-shore welfare facilities for seafarers.

“One of the pillars of the provisions is that the Nigerian government must ratify the MLC convention which the government had done.

“The National Assembly must domesticate the MLC Convention into law,’’ Folarin, also Chairman, Port Consultative Council (PCC) said.

He suggested that there should provision of employment for seafarers based on availability of vessels.

Folarin, however, expressed concern that Nigerian had not met the provision of double hull vessels specified by the IMO, adding that NIMASA says “single hull vessels will continue to sail until 2020’’.

The maritime economist noted that the IMO had outlawed single hull vessels since 2015.

He urged the Federal Government to expedite action on provision of double hull vessels for indigenous ship owners.

In the week under review, the Federal Government promised to encourage competitive business environment with efficient policies to sustain economic growth, retain and attract foreign investments into the country.

The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, gave the assurance at the inauguration of the Ministry of Transportation’s Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and Ports Services Support Portal (PSSP) in Abuja.

He commended the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, for driving the products (SOPs and PSSP).

Osinbajo said that the technology-driven programmes remained one of the important ways by which the country could fight corruption and support diversification.

He said that technology was one of the ways of ensuring service delivery in both public and private sectors.

“We believe that technology-driven public service is the way forward and this is one of the reasons we think that the SOPs and PSSPs will make a significant contribution with increased use of technology to drive them,’’ the vice president said.

Osinbajo said that SOPs and PSSP were in tandem with the diversification efforts of the Federal Government, adding that it would enhance efficiency, ensure service delivery and curb corruption in ports’ activities.

He said that a key component of the administration’s change agenda was the development of a diversified non-oil economy.

“To achieve this target, the ports must play their roles in making it easier to trade across borders and as well drive Nigeria’s trade policy.

“Better port procedures have direct impact on Nigerian and foreign businesses including enhancing our economic development.

“An enhanced port administration will make it easier for Nigerian businesses to import components leading to industrialisation and export their products to other countries easily.’’

Amaechi, the Chief Host of the occasion, said that SOPs and PSSP would pave way for openness and transparency in port operations.

The minister said that the implementation of SOPs and PSSP would serve as tools for compliance and setting standards for assessing compliance in a transparent manner.

He said that the launch of the SOP’s would enhance credibility and legal defence of actions emanating from ports.

“This platform promises to make our ports competitive and create enabling environment for improved revenue.

“It is not contestable that having SOP’s will contribute to knowledge management in the various organisations at our ports,’’ he said

He said that to facilitate maritime traffic, his ministry had been able to reduce the number of agencies in the ports to conform with global practices.

“The Federal Government in its 2016 budget had prioritised the development of infrastructure for the transport sector.

“Furthermore, the Advanced Cargo Tracking System, Single Window, Inland Dry Ports and Truck Transit Parks are other initiatives being pursued to support transportation and trade.

“The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has fully automated port operations so as to be able to meet the target of 48-hour clearance,’’ he said.

He commended the efforts of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), the In-House Committee on Ports Process Manual that worked with the consultants on the harmonisation of SOPs and the development of PSSP.

Amaechi also commended the efforts of all the key Anti-corruption agencies such as Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) and Technical Unit on Government and Anti-Corruption Reforms (TUGAR).

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