Following improved implementation of the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act 2003, otherwise known as Cabotage, by Nigerian Maritime Safety and Administration Agency, NIMASA, the engagement of seafarers by vessels trading along the nation's coastal waters rose by 10.6 percent in 2018.
This is contained in the maritime industry report titled, "Harnessing the Maritime and Shipping Sector for Sustainable Growth", developed by NIMASA which shows that the number of Nigerian seafarers increased to 7311 last year from 6610 recorded in 2017.
The document also shows that there is a steady drop in the number of foreign seafarers' engagement on-board vessels operating along the nation's coastal waters, recording a drop of -2.97 per cent to 7662 in 2018 from 7897 recorded in 2017.It also showed that number of vessels boarded by personnel of the agency increased to 1035 from 861 in 2017.
NIMASA in the document noted that objectives of the Cabotage Act include, attaining national sufficiency in tonnage capacity, shipbuilding and seafarers' capabilities; acquiring the technical know-how in ship management, shipbuilding and ship manning; enhancing the earnings and conservation of foreign exchange for the country; preserving the internal and economic security of the nation and creating employment in the maritime industry.
It also explained that the agency is synergising with the Nigeria Content Development and Monitoring Board, leading to agreed joint operations in areas like: approval of an implementation framework to drive local content development in the maritime sector, pursuant to section 105 of the Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act and Cabotage Act and development of procedure and template for data collection and analytics for marine vessel utilization.
Others are capacity Audit of ship building yards and ship repair yards in the country, development of framework for manpower development for critical skills required in the maritime sector for the first quarter of this year and ensuring effective management and disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund, CVFF.