Engr. Ume zurike decries Human Capacity Gap in Maritime Industry

National President of MAN Oron, Engr. Austin Ume Zuruike

***Says Sea Time is Important for Any Seafarer

By Sandra Chukwunyere

The lack of adequate human capacity development in the nation’s
maritime industry, particularly the seafaring sub-sector, has been adjudged to be one of the reasons Nigeria is unable to compete effectively, locally and globally, as a maritime nation.  An industry professional has lent his voice to warn on the alarming human capacity gap in the sub-sector, lamenting that the country still has more to do in terms of building and developing capacity in the maritime sector of the economy. 
The Managing Director of Arion Energy Services Limited, Austin
Ume Zurike, says that the nation needs to train more hands to ensure an adequate supply of competent workforce for the industry. He identified the lack of sea time opportunities for maritime cadets as a major reason for the considerable gap that exists in the sector. Speaking to, Mr Ume Zurike said that there is an urgent need to address this major problem of sea training for maritime graduates because academic qualification alone is not enough for a career at sea as a seafarer. Mr Ume Zurike, who also doubles as the National President of AMANO (Alumni of Maritime Academy of Nigeria Oron, Nigeria’s foremost maritime education and training institution), says lack of sufficient tonnage in terms of vessel ownership by indigenous operators is among the factors that are hindering the nation’s realization of its maritime potentials. “Vessel ownership is one and availability of berth space in the right type of vessels is another.  For maritime graduates, (cadets), who aspire to work as seafarers, onboard sea time opportunity is significant.

It is important because they cannot  sit for the certificate of competency examination without the required sea time and this varies for different categories of seafarers, whether as an engineer,  navigator or electrotechnical officer” “Duration of sea time
for cadets ranges from 12 to 24 months depending on whether the cadet attended a traditional maritime institution like the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron and the level of academic qualification obtained. It can also be up to 36 months for those who did not attend formal maritime education and training institution or who rose up the ladder through the ranks”. Speaking on the subject of the backlog of over 3000 cadets who have completed their formal education but are yet to embark on their mandatory sea time, some of whom are jobless and waiting hopelessly for many years now, the marine engineer said: “Yes, it is an unfortunate situation.

It is also a big challenge to us as a nation because, as we speak, we have gotten to the stage where the shortage of experienced and qualified seafarers in the industry has become alarming” On the subject of training ship for cadets, Mr Ume Zurike said the absence of a national carrier has contributed to the problem. He went on say that during his time as a cadet, there was the national carrier, Nigerian National Shipping Line, which provided onboard training opportunity for cadets, even if some cadets had to pay for their training onboard the two dedicated vessels used as training ships.

 “In fact in a country like Nigerian”,  he added,  “it may be difficult to have a dedicated training ship because it is costly to maintain and operate such a vessel for cadet training only. The approach where the government or the academy can partner with commercial shipping companies to make provision for dedicated berth spaces on their vessels for the training of cadets, for a fee, will go a long way in addressing the problem.” 

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