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400, 000 Pilipino seafarers may lose jobs over poor maritime safety standards.

Pilipino Seafarers
—–as Philippines may be removed from IMO white list
Grace Olojo with agency report 
400, 000 Pilipino seafarers may soon be thrown into the labour market following a European audit report which indicted the Philippines of a flagrant breach of maritime safety standards.
However, the affected seafarers are awaiting the decision of the European Commission on the matter.

The European Maritime Safety Agency, or EMSA, said that the Philippines has not been complying with international maritime safety standards.
 EMSA is charged with reducing the risks of maritime accidents, marine pollution from ships and loss of human lives at sea.

Earlier in 2022, the EMSA specified that the training and certification in Philippine maritime education institutions fell short of guidelines mandated by the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers.

The European Commission will ultimately decide the seafarers’ fate following the EMSA audit.

If the Commission upholds the findings, it may no longer recognize the seafarers’ competency certifications, which would prohibit them from working on European Union-flagged vessels — effectively leaving them jobless.

The Philippines could also end up being excluded from the International Maritime Organization’s “white list” of countries with seafarer employability.

Celia Dejond, press officer for the European Commission said that in case a withdrawal decision is adopted, existing seafarers’ certificates would only be recognized until they expire.

The maximum period for the recognition of seafarers’ certificates is five years.

“Since the Philippine’s reply to the audit findings was very extensive, the European Commission services assisted by experts are still carefully analyzing it with the intention to finalize the process with a final decision possible by end of first quarter 2023,” said Dejond.

EMSA is charged with reducing the risks of maritime accidents, marine pollution from ships and loss of human lives at seaImage.

This waiting game is putting 23-year-old Jan Bren Fermin on tenterhooks.
 He lamented that since he was a little boy, he has dreamed of sailing the waters of Europe for a sense of wider adventure — not to mention the attractive pay and working conditions.

“It is so important that the country passes the European regulatory requirements. If we don’t, I fear that international companies will no longer hire from the Philippines,” said Fermin.

 “I will lose my dream of someday becoming a captain on a European vessel.”

Nicanor Castro has crossed the waters of the globe for more than two decades. He’s been hearing about the European regulatory warnings for years and fears the possibility of suddenly not being allowed to sail.

“It shouldn’t have come to this if the government had taken the warnings seriously and acted sooner,” Castro said.

EMSA has been warning the Philippines about it noncompliance since 2006.

During a hearing in the Philippine Senate in October, Migrant Workers Assistant Secretary Jerome Pampolina warned that 2022 is the final year marked by EMSA for compliance and warned of a “domino effect” on other related maritime industries.

In November, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. met with European Union transport officials in Belgium and assured them that the government is committed to addressing the flagged deficiencies and complying with European regulations.

Officials insist the government has taken consistent measures to improve maritime training and education and has significantly reduced the number of audit findings over the years.

“We have taken considerable efforts to show the country’s compliance with international standards, such as policy revisions and issuing standards and guidelines which are aligned with outcomes-based education,” Cindy Benitez-Jaro, executive director of the Commission on Higher Education, declared.

The Philippines could end up being excluded from the International Maritime Organization’s ‘whitelist

Samuel Batalla, officer-in-charge of the Maritime Industry Authority, said the exhaustive corrective actions presented by the Philippines in response to the audit “gives us the confidence that we can expect for a positive outcome.”

“As for expectations, we are always hoping for the best,” he said.

Labor rights groups have slammed the government response as “Band-Aid solutions.”

“The government has depended on private educational institutions to provide maritime education, but has not provided them with sufficient subsidies to upgrade their facilities to align with international standards,” said Edwin Dela Cruz, who oversees seafarer concerns for rights group Migrante International.

“The government makes so much money from seafarers. They need to at least provide them with up-to-date training and not stopgap measures.”

The Philippines is the world’s largest provider of seafarers.

Data from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development shows that the Philippines is the world’s largest provider of seafarers, followed by Russia.

An estimated 380,000 Filipino seafarers, or over a quarter of all global merchant shipping crew members, are deployed on domestic or foreign-flagged shipping vessels.

Figures from the Philippine Central Bank show that in 2021, Filipino seafarers sent home an estimated $6.54 billion (€6.15 billion) in remittances.

Filipino seafarers were among those most impacted by pandemic-related lockdowns, border closures and lack of international flights which left hundreds of thousands of seafarers stranded at sea, unable to be replaced or repatriated.

At the height of the pandemic in 2020, about 50,000 Filipino seafarers had been brought back home. According to government data, the deployment of seafarers has only begun to return to normal last year.

“Seafarers — including Filipinos — have already suffered a lot during COVID. Further employment difficulties are not really what they need,” Jan Hoffmann, head of trade logistics at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, said.

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Traffic gridlock returns to Apapa port as Federal government closes Total bridge for maintainance works

The eyewitness reporter
The relative respite that port users have recently experienced from the malignant traffic gridlock at Apapa port may be over as the Federal Ministry of Works closed down the ever-busy Total bridge to the traffic.
Announcing the temporary closure which is expected to last for two and half months, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) said the measure is to pave way for repairs and maintenance works to be carried out on the bridge.
According to the statement by the authority on its verified Twitter handle, the bridge was closed to the traffic inward Apapa Port Sunday, 26th March 2023 at about 11.35 pm.
To minimise the pains of the resumed traffic gridlock on the port access road, the NPA said it has put in place a traffic control mechanism that is expected to ease the pains of port  road users.
The agency said it has partnered with LASMA, Police, FRSC and the Nigerian Navy to manage the traffic situation and work out alternative routes for motorists.
” To pave way for repair and maintenance works, the Federal ministry of works yesterday closed the TOTAL BRIDGE INWARD APAPA at about 11:35 am on 25th March 2023 to last for two months and a half.

“Given the impact the closure will have on Port users, the Authority in partnership with LASTMA, Police, FRSC, and the Nigerian Navy have worked out alternative routes and are on the ground to manage the traffic situation in the affected areas.

“The Authority wishes to solicit the understanding and cooperation of all stakeholders as we continue to support measures to mitigate the temporary disruptions, the NPA pleaded.

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NIMASA collaborates with NCC to regulate submarine cable operation for enhanced navigational safety on Nigerian waters

The eyewitness reporter

Apparently alarmed by the indiscriminate laying of communication cables and pipelines underneath the Nigerian waters by telecommunications operators and other allied professionals which has the potential of harming the safe navigation of ships, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, (NIMASA) has engaged the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in a strategic discussion to forge a formidable synergy with other relevant stakeholders with a view to developing a regulatory framework to provide operational guidelines for submarine Cable and Pipeline Operators in Nigeria.

Officials of both organs of Government in Lagos reached this agreement at a pre Audit meeting on submarine cable regulation.

The Director General of NIMASA Dr. Bashir Jamoh, who chaired the meeting, which also had the Director General of the Bureau of Public Service Reforms (BPSR) Mr. Dasuki Arabi in attendance, noted that the Agency is committed to the Ease of Doing Business while implementing International Conventions which Nigeria has ratified and domesticated.

He noted that with Nigeria now a destination for global communication players, the time has come to prevent unregulated underwater cable laying, which might become hazardous to shipping.

According to him, “It is worthy to note that marine cable laying has been ongoing for over two decades in Nigerian waters.

“Our focus is to ensure the safety of navigation of shipping in Nigerian waters with all these underwater cables being laid.

“NIMASA is actually developing the guidelines to regulate submarine cable operators in line with the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, UNCLOS; which we have ratified and NIMASA is the Agency of Government in Nigeria responsible for its implementation.

“We do not just implement laws; we consult. Where the responsibility of an Agency stops, that is where the responsibilities of another Agency start.

“Collaboration is a key component of ease of doing business in the best interest of the country and we will work closely with the NCC to achieve this”.

On his part, the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Professor Umar Garba Danbatta, who was represented by the Director, Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement, Efosa Idehen, noted that the stakeholders’ dialogue strategy adopted by NIMASA in developing the guidelines would ensure a win-win situation, urging NIMASA management to include the Ministry of Justice, a request NIMASA DG immediately granted.

Also speaking at the meeting was the Director General of the Bureau of Public Service Reforms Mr. Dasuki Arabi, who commended NIMASA and NCC for adopting effective Inter-Agency collaboration to avert a potential challenge for the country in the future.

NIMASA had notified submarine and cable operators in Nigeria of a soon-to-be-implemented regulatory guideline for submarine cables and pipelines in Nigeria, in line with the provisions of UNCLOS.

NIMASA and the NCC agreed to identify and resolve areas of likely regulatory overlaps, ensuring a regulatory framework based on consultation to engender the attainment of Nigeria’s digital economy transformation.

Officials of the Federal Ministry of Environment and representatives of Submarine Cable operators in Nigeria were also at the meeting.

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Comptroller Nnadi mourns death of retired customs officer,   DCG Sanusi

—–reminiscences on his encounter with late Customs boss
The eyewitness reporter 
Comptroller Dera Nnadi, the Area Controller of the Seme Command of the Nigeria Customs Service, has expressed a deep sense of loss mixed with grief over the death of DCG (rtd) Umar Sanusi
The retired Customs boss died early hours of Sunday 26th, March 2023,  at a private hospital in Abuja and will be buried according to Islamic rites the same day after Muslim prayer in the Abuja Central Mosque.
However,  in an emotion-laden tribute to the late Customs boss, Nnadi bemoaned the death of Sanusi whom he said he admired and revered as a Customs officer.
Recounting his various encounters with the deceased, Nnadi disclosed that the late Sanusi came across to him as a fine, diligent, compassionate, thorough, and core professional officer who was humane, humble, and highly detribalized, the attributes which Comptroller Nnadi said had a deep impression on him
“It is with a heavy heart that I received the news of the death of DCG Rtd Umar Sanusi.  A gentleman officer and an erudite Nigerian.
“My first encounter with the senior officer was in 2003 or so at the  CGC conference in Calabar Cross River State, where, as an Assistant Comptroller of Customs, he presented a report as the  APM Apapa Command.
“It was not common then to present papers and reports in PowerPoint, but he did. This was not the only remarkable thing he did at the conference.
“The then AC Sanusi was detailed in his report, which was a departure from what others presented.
“He was factual and honest and admitted it where things were wrong in NCS  operations at Apapa Command and highlighted them in writing during his presentation.
“This was shocking to the entire audience as it was rare then for officers to admit that their acts while discharging their duties, were not optimal.
“Some attempt by the moderator to stop him was rebuffed by a lone voice.
“One man and indeed the Boss was that voice. The then  CGC now Gbon Gwom Jos Da Elder Jacob Gyang Buba overruled everybody and urged him to continue and to even say more if he has facts.
“He gave him more time than the allotted 30 minutes. There was a pin-drop silence.
“AC Sanusi earned a place in the Service after that encounter. He also earned my admiration as a young Deputy Superintendent of Customs.
“Our path was to cross again when I was posted to Apapa prior to the commencement of the second phase of the NCS and  NPA port reforms, which coincided in 2006.
” AC Sanusi was the APM and  I was the PRO of the Command.
“The NCS reforms included migration from basic  ASYCUDA to ASYCUDA 2.0, the use of the precursor to PAAR called Risk Assessment Report RAR, the introduction of e- Payment regime and the introduction of Non-Intrusive Cargo examination- Scanners all with Apapa Port as the pilot Command.
“On the other hand and going on simultaneously was the port concession which saw NPA handing over to private sector owners of the port facilities.
“The challenges then were enormous, but we survived all through DCG Sanusi’s diligence with the then Comptroller Rasheed Owolabi Taiwo.
“It was a milestone for me and indeed for the senior officer then AC Sanusi. I learnt a lot from him.
“Yet another remarkable encounter with DCG Sanusi was at the NCS Headquarters when he was appointed ACG Headquarters.
“I had gone to greet him and pay homage when he did the “unthinkable” at least in my little understanding of life then.
“After taking my compliments, he offered me a seat and of course, I refused to seat in his presence as an Assistant Comptroller out of courtesy.
“He said ‘Nnadi, I have observed that we are not close anymore and I think this is an opportunity for me to address it’. I was shocked and said it wasn’t so.
“What he said next shocked me. He said ” I know I offended you but I  want to use this opportunity to apologise and request that you work closely with me. As ACG HQ, I will need you around me since you are in SR&P”.
“I  responded that I did not know that he offended me being his junior who respect and admire him. He said I should never mind.
“He offered me a gift, stepped out, shook my hands and gave me a hug.
“I left his office confused, overwhelmed with emotions and thereafter held in greater esteem and awe. His loss is a personal one to me.
“Farewell DCG Umar Sanusi. NCS and indeed Nigeria lost a gem” Nnadi sobbed.
The deceased, Sanusi, who retired in 2019 as DCG, Human Resources Department, died after a brief illness in the early hours of Sunday, 26th March 2023.
Sanusi was earlier appointed Assistant Comptroller General Customs (ACG), Headquarters by Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), in 2015 before he was promoted to DCG in 2018.
Announcing his death, the Public Relations Officer, PTML command of the Service, SC Yakubu Muhammed said
“With heavy heart,i notify us of the demise of DCG AU Sanusi(Rtd).

“He passed on about an hour ago at a private hospital in Abuja. The Janaza prayers hold after the Zuhr prayers (1 pm) at the National Mosque, Abuja In Shaa Allah,”

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