Lack of training ship, funds to stall gains of Institutes of Maritime Studies
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in 2013 got the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and the National Assembly approvals to establish Institute of Maritime Studies (IMS) first, in four different universities.
The four universities include Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University (IBBU), Lapai; University of Lagos (Unilag); University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) and the Niger-Delta University. This number was later increased to six to include Gmobe and Anambra States Universities.
According to NIMASA management at that time, the Institutes were to help create opportunity for students to pursue career in maritime related studies.
Then, the nation’s maritime industry had serious manpower supply challenge such that over 50 percent of Nigerian generated maritime jobs were being taken over by foreign maritime professionals and mariners.
As a result, Nigeria was recording over N960 billion annual lost as capital flight from the salaries and remunerations of those foreigners, which should have been earned by Nigerians, if we had professionals to take up those jobs.
Given the determination to bridge this huge gap, NIMASA in addition to other strategies, established Institute of Maritime Studies (IMS) in six different universities.
The Institutes were to run 3-semester Professional Post Graduate Diploma in Maritime Studies (PGDMS) and provide professional, academic as well as research capacity development for the maritime sector in Nigeria.
The programme was designed for graduates who had background in Natural and Applied sciences, or Social sciences, and who intend to further his or her career in professional and entrepreneurship opportunities that exist in the maritime sector. It was also designed for candidates intending to specialise in maritime management and administration or maritime environment, health and safety.
Much as these institutes started operations especially with its flagships IBBU and UniLag, followed by four others, the gains of establishing the schools may be defeated due to their inability to acquire training vessels for the mandatory sea time training for the cadets, who graduate from the Institutes.
A typical example is the case of University of Lagos that recently made public its intention to acquire a multi-million dollar oceangoing vessel for the sea time training of cadets.
Speaking in Lagos recently at the 10th edition of the Nigerian International Maritime, Ports and Terminals (NIMPORT) conference themed, ‘Improving Connectivity, Enhancing Trade’, Olusoji Ilori, board chairman, IMS of Unilag said that the school currently has an ‘already written invoice’ for the ship but yet to get sponsors to fund the acquisition.
According to him, the major challenge facing the Institute of Maritime Studies (IMS) was lack of training vessel for cadets to undergo the mandatory sea time training, a requirement for obtaining the international Certificate of Competency (CoC), as provided by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
Ilori, who disclosed that the current management of NIMASA has pulled out its funding support for the Institute, said that the school has approached agencies like NIMASA and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) for support, to acquire the needed vessel without concrete result.
“The University of Lagos has also approached lending institutions, which offered to give credit facility to the school but on an outrageous interest rate of 26-28 percent. “We do not have the capacity to fund such credit facility because the school is a non-profit making venture,” Ilori told BusinessDay on the sideline of NIMPORT conference.
During his presentation, the varsity don pointed to the fact that foreigners especially Philippines and Indians have taken over the seafaring jobs, which Nigerians were entitled to as provided in the Cabotage Act.
He blamed the development on lack of adequate manpower to man Nigerian owned vessels.
“We rely so much on foreign experts, who earn dollars and repatriate them back to their home countries because we are not developing our maritime schools and institutions,” he decried.
He however, called on the Federal Government to financially empower established maritime schools like IMS in Unilag to enable them build qualified manpower and create employment for Nigerians.
He however pointed to the fact that the only option left for six existing maritime institutes, were to come together under one umbrella and buy a ship that can be used by all.
Fortune Idu, chairman of NIMPORT, pointed to the need to improve cargo flow and connectivity between the ports and the manufacturing city centers, which will help to fast track speedy delivering of cargo to importer’s warehouse and reduce the cost of goods.
He said that 45 percent of production cost in Africa can be attributed to transportation while 50 percent of produce or transit cargo is lost due to poor logistics connectivity.
Big Read |