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Russia-Ukraine conflict may lead to seafarers shortage, hike in wages—Experts


Shipping experts have expressed concerns over the ongoing hostilities in Ukraine which they said may lead to a crisis in the supply chain of seafarers.
Their worries were predicated on the large numbers of both the Russian and Ukrainian seafarers which make up a large chunk of seafarers worldwide and which the conflict may affect.

According to analysts, nearly 1.9 million seafarers are currently operating over 74,000 vessels in the global merchant fleet.

They said with the Russia Ukraine conflict showing no signs of easing and all focus on humanitarian logistics and aid, one key component of the supply chain – as usual – is being ignored and they are the seafarers.

Nearly 1.9 million seafarers are currently operating over 74,000 vessels in the global merchant fleet, according to the Seafarer Workforce Report published in 2021 by BIMCO and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS).

“Of this total workforce, 198,123 (10.5 percent) of seafarers are Russian of which 71,652 are officers and 126,471 are ratings.

 Ukraine accounts for 76,442 (4 percent) of seafarers of which 47,058 are officers and 29,383 are ratings.

 Combined they represent 14.5 percent of the global workforce.

“Shipping is currently responsible for the movement of nearly 90 percent of global trade.

“Seafarers have been at the forefront of the response to the Covid Pandemic, ensuring essential supplies of food, fuel and medicine continue to reach their destinations,” ICS said in a statement.

Guy Platten, Secretary-General, ICS, added: “To maintain this unfettered trade, seafarers must be able to join and disembark ships (crew change) freely across the world.

 “With flights canceled in the region, this will become increasingly difficult.
“The ability to pay seafarers also needs to be maintained via international banking systems.
“The safety of our seafarers is our absolute priority. We call on all parties to ensure that seafarers do not become collateral damage in any actions that governments or others may take.

“Seafarers have been at the forefront of keeping trade flowing through the pandemic and we hope that all parties will continue to facilitate free passage of goods and these key workers at this time.”

Research by ICS shows that an average ship has a mix of at least three nationalities on board, and sometimes as many as 30.

“Three languages were the minimum spoken on the average ship.”

ICS has also called on governments around the world to ensure access to medical care for seafarers after it emerged that crews continue to be refused urgent treatment at ports during the pandemic.

Given this background, the International Maritime Organization held an Extraordinary Council Session on Mach 10 and 11, and the agenda was on addressing the impacts on shipping and seafarers of the situation in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.

“We anticipate we will receive specific submissions from Member-States as well as from NGOs in consultative status but mostly it will allow for States to make statements as to their views,” an official told The STAT Media Group.

The IMO Council consists of 40 Member States, elected by the IMO Assembly.

The International Group of P&I Clubs (marine insurance providers) personnel sub-committee has issued a contract addendum to assist owners and crew, especially Ukrainian crew, who would like to alter their contracts.

The last container ship in Ukraine – Joseph Schulte, capable of carrying 9,400 20-foot containers – arrived on the eve of Russia’s invasion and has not moved in 12 days, its crew and cargo safe but caught in a war zone, Bloomberg reported.

Seafarers and the ship are “safe and well,” according to a statement from a crisis PR agency that responded to an email request sent to Germany-based Bernhard Schulte that is listed as the ship’s owner, the report added.

Russian/Ukrainian seafarers more on tankers

“Russian and Ukrainian officers are employed in high numbers on tanker vessels, both oil and gas, which already have the tightest supply of qualified and experienced officers.

” Hence it is on these trades that the main effects will be felt,” Drewry said in an update.

“A reasonable proportion of Russian and Ukrainian seafarers will already have foreign homes, and will therefore be less restricted in their travel to or from vessels during crew changes.

“But Drewry estimates these to represent less than 20 percent of the available pool and visa implications could arise if the free movement of Russian citizens is limited by the international community.

“Hence, a large number will therefore be directly affected now.”

Ukrainian seafarers currently at sea will find repatriation very difficult with a best case that they travel to a nearby country by air and then onward home via whatever means is available, Drewry added.

“This obviously carries considerable danger but with family possibly still in situation and a desire to defend their country some may return.
For Ukrainian seafarers off duty at home when the conflict started, the situation will be even more difficult.

 For a range of reasons, it is thought that they will find it very difficult or impossible to travel to join a vessel for their next scheduled tour.”

Given the fast-changing situation, employers may think twice about employing Russian seafarers if they cannot reliably get them to vessels as planned.

 “Banking restrictions imposed on Russia may also make payment of seafarers problematic, adding to reasons companies may look to other nationalities to crew their vessels.
Indian seafarers are likely to be the prime option, although there are also other alternative nationalities.
 Indian wage rates are similar to Russian and Ukrainian and supply numbers are high.

However, as mentioned earlier, given pre-existing tight officer availability, there will only be limited skilled labour available to fill any gaps.”

Drewry is expecting the conflict’s impacts on seafarer availability to lead to wage inflation, particularly for officers where supply conditions were already tight.

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Lagos princess congratulates Tinubu, Sanwo-Olu

… tasks them on development of maritime economy
The eyewitness reporter
The President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Olushola Sanwo-Olu have been tasked with paying attention to the maritime economy for its development for the overall benefit of Nigeria and her citizenry.
Giving the task with congratulatory messages, a Lagos princess, Princess Ronke Kosoko, noted that developing the maritime economy would instigate the economic development of the nation.
Princess Kosoko who is the CEO of Employment Clinic and Coordinator, Project One Million Jobs,
congratulated Asiwaju Tinubu and Governor Sanwo-Olu on their well-deserved victories at the polls.
She was confident that the Nigerian maritime economy will gain immensely from the Tinubu administration even as she enjoined the President-elect to focus on the industry.
Kosoko noted that skilled maritime personnel is aging and there is a need to transfer their wealth of experience to the younger generation who needs to be prepared to take over from the retiring generation.
She disclosed that the Federal Ministry of Transportation had approved the request for Project One Million Jobs to interface with agencies under the ministry for a seamless flow of talks and synergy that will positively impact and lead to a new frontier in the industry.
Ronke Kosoko unveiled her pet project, Maritime Conversion Programme (MCP), which she explained was designed to introduce Nigerian graduates to the maritime sector and improve career prospects.

Kosoko said that the MCP, which has gotten the backing of the government, would give support and connect not less than 5000 Nigerian graduates with the right employers in the industry who can engage them in non-technical aspects of shipping.

She noted that women will be given an adequate percentage under MCP, stating that the MCP is not creating jobs but providing a fertile ground for the transfer of knowledge from old Nigerians in the industry to young ones.

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Ekweremadu, wife may go to jail as London court finds them guilty of organ tafficking

Ike Ekweremadu; his wife, Beatrice;
The Eyewitness reporter with agency report

A former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu; his wife Beatrice; and their doctor, Obinna Obeta have been found guilty of organ trafficking in the first verdict of its kind under the Modern Slavery Act.

Ekweremadu, 60; his wife, Beatrice, 56; and Obeta, 51; were found guilty of facilitating the travel of a young man to Britain with a view to his exploitation after a six-week trial at the Old Bailey.

They  allegedly criminally conspired to bring the 21-year-old Lagos street trader to London to exploit him for his kidney, the jury found, according to UK Guardian.

Ekweremadu and his wife were charged in the United Kingdom after they allegedly lured a young man from Nigeria to harvest his organ for their ailing daughter, Sonia.
The lawmaker was last year arrested and had been in the custody of UK authorities after they received complaints from the young man about their alleged plans to harvest his organ.

The prosecutor, Hugh Davies KC, told the court on Thursday the Ekweremadus and Obeta had treated the man and other potential donors as “disposable assets – spare parts for reward”.

He said they entered an “emotionally cold commercial transaction” with the man.

The behaviour of Ekweremadu, a successful lawyer and founder of an anti-poverty charity who helped draw up Nigeria’s laws against organ trafficking, showed “entitlement, dishonesty and hypocrisy”, Davies told the jury.

He said Ekweremadu, who owns several properties and had a staff of 80, “agreed to reward someone for a kidney for his daughter – somebody in circumstances of poverty and from whom he distanced himself and made no inquiries, and with whom, for his own political protection, he wanted no direct contact”.

Davies added, “What he agreed to do was not simply expedient in the clinical interests of his daughter, Sonia, it was exploitation, it was criminal.

“It is no defence to say he acted out of love for his daughter. Her clinical needs cannot come at the expense of the exploitation of somebody in poverty.”

Ekweremadu, who denied the charge, told the court he was the victim of a scam.

Obeta, who also denied the charge, claimed the man was not offered a reward for his kidney and was acting altruistically.

Beatrice denied any knowledge of the alleged conspiracy. Sonia did not give evidence.

The judge, Mr Justice Jeremy Johnson, will pass sentence at a later date.

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EFCC arraigns bank manager, two others for N55m fraud in Makurdi

Owolola Adebola

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC,) on Tuesday, March 21, 2023, arraigned one Kichime Gomwalk, a  branch manager of First City Monument Bank, (FCMB,) Michael Damkas Buayam of Tan Global Energy Limited, and Abbas Andrew Dayilim of Castlegate International Limited before Justice P. S. Gang of the Plateau State High Court Jos, on a five-count charge bordering on stealing, cheating and obtaining by false pretense to the tune of N55,000.000.00 (Fifty Five Million Naira) fraud.

Kichime Gomwalk, while serving as branch Manager, FCMB Plc, Murtala Mohammed Way Jos, in Plateau State is alleged to have forged COCIN GRATUITY CERTIFICATE OF PLEDGE/LETTER OF SET-OFF dated 30th DECEMBER, 2019, purportedly co-signed by Mrs. Monica Bitrus Tang and Rev (Dr.) Amos Musa Mohzo, Directors, which he used to secure an overdraft facility from FCMB Plc to the tune of N55, 000.000.00 (Fifty-Five Million Naira) with COCIN Gratuity account N0. 100GOMWALK379 domiciled with FCMB Plc

Count one of the charges reads, “That you, Kichime Gomwalk, Michael Damkas Buayam of Tan Global Energy Limited, and you Abbas Andrew Dayilim of Castlegate International Limited, sometime in December 2019 at Jos, in Plateau State within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court did conspire among yourselves to commit an unlawful act to with without Lawful authority engaged in the acquisition of N55,000.000.00 (Fifty Five Million Naira) overdraft credit facility from FCMB Plc and thereby committed an offense of conspiracy contrary to section 59 (1) of the Plateau State Penal Code Law, (20017) and punishable under Section 59 (2) of the same Law”.

Count two reads, “That you, Kichime Gomwalk, Michael Damkas Buayam of Tan Global Energy Limited, and you Abbas Andrew Dayilim of Castlegate International Limited, sometime in December 2019 in Plateau State within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court fraudulently used LETTER OF CONSENT to engage in the acquisition of N55,000.000.00 (Fifty Five Million Naira) overdraft credit facility from FCMB Plc knowing that at the time of acquisition of the said money, it was derived from the unlawful activity and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 18 (a) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission  (Establishment Act) 2004, and Punishable under section 18 (2) of the same Act”.

The defendants pleaded ‘not guilty’ when the charge was read to them.

 The prosecution counsel, Uwaise Yusuf urged the court to remand the defendants and fix a date for trial.

The judge adjourned the case till May 18, 2023, and ordered the remand of the defendants at the Jos Correctional Center pending the hearing of their bail applications.

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