Stakeholders demand release of Customs vessels to maritime academies

Stakeholders of maritime academies have urged the Federal Government to release the Nigeria Customs Service’s (NCS) sea-going vessels to the institutions as part of efforts to boost capacity of seafarers and cadets.

The two ocean-going ships have been wasting away in Lagos waters since their deployment to Nigeria from Europe in 2014. The vessels-MV Group of Nine and MV Customs Pride–are sophisticated watercraft built with Roll Royce engines to comb territorial waters.

Speaking against the backdrop of the lackluster attitude of the management of the NCS, the stakeholders maintained that the vessels should be handed over to reputable maritime academies for optimal utilisation.

They argued that due to their disuse, the vessels might have become outdated, even as they restated that students of the academies would benefit immensely in proffering solutions to sea time experience.

Registrar of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Francis Omotosho, said since the vessels are under-utilised by the marine team of NCS, there was a need to hand them over to some reputable maritime schools.

Omotosho noted that the vessels have the capacity to train Nigerians youths and will further save the cost of sending students overseas for sea time experience.

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“If the vessels are bought with government money for the NCS and they refuse to use it, then it will be advisable that they give it out for training of students who are studying nautical sciences related courses for adequate sea time simulation and practical training,” he said.

Registrar, Ports and Terminals Management Academy of Nigeria (POTEMAN), Dr. Samuel Babatunde, stressed the need for government to direct the Customs to give the vessels to some of the maritime training institutes.

Babatunde said a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) should also serve the purpose of training cadets, adding that the idleness of the ships is a colossal loss to the nation’s economy, insisting that the sea-going vessels could bridge sea-time gap experience and that students would benefit from the ships if taken over by the maritime institutions for training purposes.

He added that effort should be made to see if the abandoned vessels are still relevant to the modem shipping practice.

“In as much as the Nigerian government, through the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) could not acquire training vessels for sea time, alternatively, the industry watchers call on the government to donate abandoned vessels by customs to maritime academies to bridge the gap of sea time experience.

“At least, our cadets can have more fair experience than none. Most importantly, the ships do not constitute a hazard to the trainers and the trainees respectively.

“Lastly, efforts should be put in place to ascertain their legal status before engagement to avoid trespassing on another person’s property,” he added.

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