By Innocent Obasi
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has launched the maritime labour electronic platform to facilitate the registration, regulation, and data collection of dockworkers, seafarers, stevedoring companies, seafarer employers, jetties, terminal operators, and offshore platforms or terminals.
Bashir Jamoh, director-general of NIMASA, said at the official flag-off of the maritime labour e-platform and the issuance of biometric identity cards to dockworkers at APM Terminal Apapa on Tuesday that the platform was created out of the need for an independent, reliable, integrated information, verification, and communication platform that will serve as the system database generation on maritime labour.
Additionally, he said, it would be a source of statistical data and analytics for national planning, policy development, capacity building, and research.
The NIMASA DG said that it is also convenient for marine labour employers to complete the registration process from the comfort of their workplaces without necessarily visiting the agency’s office.
“I am particularly delighted about the prospect of eliminating the time-consuming process of seafarers and employers’ registration, which is what the e-platform would provide. It is further expected that the e-platform will promote a seamless registration process that will culminate into the issuance of biometric identity cards to seafarers and dockworkers,” he said.
Creating jobs for seafarers is a goal of the agency’s ongoing engagement with multiple government departments, Jamoh said, adding that the e-platform would also give seafarers the information they need for their training, certification, and placement onboard vessels.
“Our resolve to make life meaningful to the entire maritime labour remains firm and we intend to achieve this through sustainable efforts in capacity building and improved welfare. The agency is also prioritising the training of seafarers to meet industry needs with emphasis on specialised and advanced trainings,” he said.
Jamoh urged other stakeholders, including employers of seafarers, manning agents, port operators, dock labour employers, seafarers, and dockworkers, to make sure the platform is used effectively while avoiding actions that could leave it vulnerable to the manipulation of online scammers.
Victor Ochei, executive director of maritime labour & cabotage services at NIMASA, said the launch of the e-platform is in compliance with the implementation of section 27 (1) (a) of NIMASA’s Act, 2007, which requires it to register and maintain a register of every maritime worker and operator.
In accordance with international best practices, Ochei said the registration of maritime labour services would move away from the current manual operations to electronic registration. He indicated that the platform would also centralize, coordinate, and integrate the gathering, storing, and creation of maritime labour data for planning, research, assessment, and evaluation.
Vicky Haastrup, chairman, Seaport Terminal Operators Association (STOAN), said the electronic platform would significantly help not only the dock labour industry but also the entire maritime industry.
While encouraging terminal operators to utilize the platform, Haastrup also urged other stakeholders to work with NIMASA to make the process as seamless as possible in an effort to establish a well-coordinated port system.