Amid celebrations to the mark 2022 Sea Sunday, the Mission to Seafarers (MTS), Lagos has revealed that it is in partnership with the Nigerian Maritime Law Association (NMLA) to protect and bail seafarers arrested in Nigeria who are victimized for crimes committed by their ship owners.
The Chairman of the Management Committee, MTS Lagos, Chief Adebayo Sarumi stated this during the 2022 Annual Sea Sunday service which held at Our Saviours Church, TBS, Lagos, yesterday.
Chief Sarumi noted that MTS partnership with the NMLA to provide legal representation becomes very essential where vessels are arrested and seafarers are detained for crimes or offences by the vessel owners.
Sarumi, at the event themed; “Calming the Storm at Home, In Port, and At Sea”, observed that there is a need for more stakeholders partnership for a vibrant MTS centre equipped with modern facilities and the requisite personnel to attend to seafarers.
“The seafarer is a worker that the world is yet to truly understand his significance. These are workers who carry everything imported that citizens of any nation utilize. When we were younger, the Seafarers’ Centre in Apapa was a beehive of activities. When seafarers come to Lagos ports, we bring them to that Apapa Centre to care for them.”
“After spending 6 -10 weeks on the waters, when seafarers come to the shores of a nation that is not their home, it’s only befitting that they have a place where they are cared for psychologically, spiritually and physically. There is no better place to go than an establishment setup by a Christian organization which is what MTS stands for,” Sarumi said.
He encouraged the church and other well-meaning Nigerians to collaborate with MTS Lagos to make seafarers that come to the nation’s shores realize that the work they put in is well appreciated.
In his sermon, The Venerable Tunde Oduwole identified seafarers as one of the most essential workers in the world and admonished the church members and Nigerians to demonstrate their love for God by extending monetary and other forms of support to the MTS Lagos.
Oduwole, however, noted that inspite of the Russia-Ukraine war, COVID-19 pandemic, tsunamis, and other global crisis, seafarers have continued to sacrifice the comfort and time with their families in a bid to ensure international trade continues.
His words: “Seafarers have to deal with several storms in the cause of their work. Some the storms in recent times could be the COVID-19 pandemic, tsunamis, unemployment, political problems, troubles in their marriages and difficulties in managing homes amid spending several months away from their families yearly.
“So for seafarers who play this crucial role for the globe at the expense of quality time with their families, the Sea Sunday is a time to remember seafarers and those who labour to care for them. We should give thanks for the work they do and support them through charitable donations. Our celebration should bring hope and transformation into the lives of seafarers and their families”
Oduwole stressed that the over 1.5million seafarers who risk their lives everyday deserve a centre and the right human personnel to care for their mental and psychological needs as well as spiritual needs. He equally noted that corporate organizations could also partner MTS as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to cater for the welfare of seafarers with wifi provision for sufficient data to communicate with their families.
Also speaking, Capt. Emmanuel Ebubeogu recalled his experience in seafaring and the numerous occasions where the care and support availed him by MTS in Italy, Portugal and other nations encouraged to continue the risky venture of seafaring.
His words: “I’m a beneficiary of the numerous activities of MTS and I’ll like to tell you about some ordeals. In 1991, we carried wheat from Montreal in Canada to Port-au-Prince in Haiti. During our voyage we came across a terrible storm around the Bermuda Island and for three days we couldn’t eat. Everyone had to go for his bible because the ship was rolling 45 degrees on either side. When we arrived Port-au-Prince, we had lost one lifeboat and we were seriously battered. Some of my colleagues had sworn that if they managed to get back on land they wouldn’t come back to sea.”
“At Port-au-Prince, there was Mission to Seafarers who gave us the much-needed encouragement. I recall the chaplain telling us that in Psalm 91 God didn’t guarantee us a trobule or challenge free world, but he guaranteed us his presence in times of trouble. After engaging us, we had some respite and those who had planned to fly back to their countries, found that their faith was stronger and they were willing to continue the voyage.”
On his part, the Assistant Chaplain of MTS Lagos and 2nd Vice President of the Association of Marine Engineers and Surveyors (AMES), Engr. Emmanuel Ilori encouraged more Nigerians and organizations to partner with the MTS Lagos to achieve its objectives.
“When you look at recent events around the globe like the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war, you would agree that it is a challenging time for seafarers. However, at MTS, we would continue to be available to care for seafarers and the centre is Lagos is being developed. We also send our ship visitors to the vessels and they are trained people who understand the challenge of seafarers,” he said.
Ilori assured that MTS Lagos will continue to provide its services to seafarers in a bid to dissipate the trauma and needs that arises from the arduous tasks of seafaring.