THE Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has said Nigeria must take deliberate steps to optimise its rich maritime resources to consolidate the countrys status as a regional maritime hub.

Sanwo-Olu stated this recently during the World Maritime Day celebration, with the theme, Seafarers: At the core of shippings future, hosted in the state.

The governor, who was represented by the Managing Director, Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA), Mr. Damilola Emmanuel stated that, Nigeria needs to consolidate her position as the maritime hub for West and Central Africa by fully harnessing her maritime resources and ensuring safety and security within our territorial waters and in the Gulf of Guinea.

The maritime industry is a window to economic prosperity and national development of nations, and Lagos State has utilised its maritime status to foster national unity and cohesion as the Centre of Excellence.

Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, in his speech, called for more attention to specialised training of seafarers, saying the Federal Government is committed to strengthening the National Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP).

Amaechi said seafaring had evolved from simple apprenticeship to specialised and rigorous nautical education due to the effects of digitalisation and the emergence of technologically advanced ships.

The minister said, In view of the emerging realities, more attention should be given to seafarers specialised training to be capable of performing expert tasks in their various fields of engagement on board vessels.

In his own address, Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh said the country prioritised the welfare of seafarers and had continued to work in close adherence to standards set by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) with regard to their wellbeing.

The NIMASA DG extolled the strategic role of seafarers in the global supply chain and commended IMO for focusing on seafarers welfare since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019.

He stated that, NIMASA has continued to march in lockstep with the IMO on all matters concerning seafarers since the outbreak of COVID-19. We were the first to declare seafarers as essential workers on the African continent.

We recognised that the COVID-19 pandemic had placed extraordinary demands on seafarers. During the lockdowns, occasioned by the pandemic across the globe, seafarers remained in service, delivering critical supplies to feed and heal a sick and despairing world.

In my view, seafarers will, no doubt, continue to remain at the core of shipping from past to present to future in line with this years theme of World Maritime Day, Jamoh stated.

In his own goodwill message, the Chief of Naval Staff who was represented by Rear Admiral Adaji commended the Deep Blue project initiative, assuring of the Nigerian Navys commitment to its successful implementation

The World Maritime Day is a day set aside by the International Maritime Organization to draw attention to issues in the maritime industry.

In spite of the huge investment in the water sector by the government and international organisations, water scarcity has grown to become a perennial nightmare for residents of Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital. This report x-rays the lives and experiences of residents in getting clean, potable and affordable water amidst the surge of COVID-19 cases in the state.

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