The Mission to Seafarers (MTS) Lagos, on Sunday highlighted the dangers that seafarers face while on their job at sea. It also gave some good news of how it had supported over 200 seafarers who were visiting Nigeria in the last one year.
Chairman of the MTS Lagos, Chief Adebayo Sarumi, in his message for the day celebrating the Sea Sunday on 30th July at the Cathedral Church of Christ (Anglican Communion) Marina Lagos, said that: “In addition to physical danger due to travel by sea, seafarers are in danger of suicide, long voyages without shore leaves or countries deny them the opportunity to leave their ships. Lack of shore leave is like imprisonment or house arrest. They suffer psychological illness, piracy and armed attacks too.”
On the commitment by the MTS Lagos in caring for the seafarers, he said: “We provide home from home for the seafarers or a safe transit point when they leave the vessel. We attend to the welfare needs of these seafarers so they can maintain our way of life and needs.”
Speaking in the light of how the Centre had been supportive of seafarers visiting Nigeria, Chaplain of the Mission in Lagos, Rev. Bimbo Aduroja, told newsmen that the Mission had been dedicated in its care for the seafarers by ensuring regular visits and giving spiritual support and otherwise, as required, to the seafarers.
His words: “Since the last Sea Sunday celebration till date, we have been able to go on regular sea visits and asking after the seafarers’ welfare. And, we have been able to bring some of them to the Centre, which we weren’t doing in previous years.
“At the Centre, a major renovation work is on-going, and by the grace of God through the instrumentality of the Chairman, Chief Adebayo Sarumi, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) came to our aid to renovate all the MTS facilities.
“On the nature of the support, we offer spiritual, physical and psychological assistance depending on how we meet the seafarers and their requests. And we have supported over 200 seafarers since the last one year.”
The major targets of the Mission are the foreign seafarers visiting Nigeria, Aduroja said. “They come from different parts of the world. We visit them and minister to them. We have supported seafarers from China, Australia and across the continents of the world.”
The MTS Lagos, a member of a comity of nations, with headquarters in London, and regional body in South Africa, is hopeful on completing renovation work that is on-going at the Centre in Apapa
Speaking also, assistant chaplain of the Mission and a marine engineer, Rev. Emmanuel Ilori, expressed confidence of the Mission’s commitment to the wellbeing of visiting seafarers, highlighting the important role Nigeria plays, considering that over 3000 vessels call the nation’s ports. He said it was also significant because of Nigeria’s interest in becoming a part of one of the Councils of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
His words: “With over 3000 vessels visiting our ports, Nigeria plays a major part in the mission to seafarers in the global development. And as Nigeria aims to be part of the council of the IMO, the issue of seafarers have become very important, and that is why the mission to seafarers comes to its being.
“Now, we are establishing Nigeria as a nation with great care about seafarers because we recognise their role in the global logistics chain, without which the global economy could grind to a halt.”
Ilori said that mission understands the challenge of no-shore-leave that seafarers face, which hurts their mental health. And, it is a very important reason the mission offers its hand of care to give the seafarers a sense of love outside of the ship.
“The issue of shore leave is a big problem globally, when seafarers, after months of being at sea would not be able to go out. That is why we now say we can see them, bring them ashore to have a break from that stressful environment. That is why the Mission to Seafarers is very critical; at over 250 ports and in over 50 countries globally, I think that the IMO and the global maritime community would take the mission to seafarers very seriously. It is interesting,” Rev. Ilori added.
On her part, Chair of the Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Princess Vicky Haastrup, called on the maritime industry stakeholders to also support what she described as “a very noble cause” being undertaken by the MTS Lagos, in support of seafarers, who stay committed to their duty to ensure that trade is kept going.
Her words: “These are people who spend as long as three to six months at sea away from their family. They sometimes fall sick, suffer pirates’ attacks. We know what it is when we are away from our family, and imagine that they suffer turbulence at sea.
“It is great that a day like this is set aside to give attention to remember them for what they are doing to keep trade going. The seafarers do a lot of sacrifices and their welfare should be given all the attention it requires too, when we pray for them and create a place where they can go and have fun and unwind from all the stress.”
Haastrup called for the sensitisation of port operators on the need to support the MTS Lagos as she said: “The mission needs money to survive and support the seafarers. I am ceasing this opportunity to call on my colleagues to stand up to this call and support this mission on this noble work. I think it is fair to give such support.”
The sermon for the programmed themed ‘Importance of Seafarers to our wellbeing and global economy’ was delivered by the Right Rev. Olusola Odedeji.
Recognising ‘mission’ as the heartbeat of God, Rev. Odedeji said the mission’s first responsibility is to preach and proclaim the word of the Lord to the seafarers as well praying for them.
Also in attendance were Madam Funmilayo Folorunsho; a member of the MTS Lagos Management Committee; Capt. Tajudeen Alao, President of the Nigerian Association of Master Mariners (NAMM) ; President, Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA) Nigeria, Mrs. Eunice Ezeoke; Master Mariner , Capt. Iheanacho Ebubeogu; President, Women in Maritime Africa (WIMA), Nigerian Chapter, Mrs. Rollens Macfoy; Chief Executive, Ships and Ports, Dr. Bolaji Akinola, and a host of other industrystakeholders.