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SLPP Gov’t Boycotts Seafarer’s Graduation Ceremony

SLPP Gov’t Boycotts Seafarer’s Graduation Ceremony

The General Secretary of the Sierra Leone Seafarers’ Union (SLSU), Tejan A. Savage, has expressed deep dissatisfaction to the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) government especially the National Commission for Privatization (NCP) and the Sierra Leone Maritime Administration (SLMA) over their deliberate act to boycott his union in its first graduation ceremony held for more than 200 students who graduated on foundational courses on Pre-Seamanship.

He made this statement during their first awarding ceremony of 212 graduates at the Maritime Institute for Seafarers, at the Obama City, Lower Savage Square, back of Bishop Johnson Memorial Junior /Senior Secondary School, Fourah Bay Road in Freetown on the 22nd November 2018.

In his opening speech, the chairman of the event, Veteran Captain Macauley says, he is among the pioneers that initiated the Seafarers training course in Sierra Leone and that many countries have improved rapidly on their maritime industry with standard training packages for young people to realize their full potentials in the Maritime environment.

He commended the Executive Secretary, Mr. Savage for taking the bold step in the fight to promote the Maritime Industry in Sierra Leone even with the numerous challenges the sector is facing with nothing that this will be a solid beginning for Seafarer workers to continue having quality and standard training courses to compete globally with other countries.

“We now have vibrant leadership in the person of Mr. Savage who is genuinely determined to promote Seafarers in Sierra Leone. We would see more activities in our Maritime Industry. We don’t have monies to give to Mr. Savage but we would make sure that government and other International Partners recognized his effort,” Captain Macauley noted.

Giving the backdrop of Seafarers’ Union, the General Secretary said the Union was established 40-50 years ago in Sierra Leone with aim of improving Seafarers’ conditions of service and that what is new in the Maritime industry now is Standardization and modernization.

He recalled that recently Liberia has opened their first Multipurpose Institute  for Seafarers with International standards in a bid to develop the Maritime Industry for rapid economic growth and that most countries in Africa have gone far in the development of Seafarer Workers except Sierra Leone who is still lacking behind due to lack of proper trainings for locals.

He said based on these happenings, the Sierra Leone Seafarers’ Union decided to introduce this training project which includes few of the old Seafarers in the country, with over two hundred new intakes to undergo the first foundation training on Standard Training Certification Workmanship (STCW) as a starting point to promote young people.

“We are doing this to complement government’s effort and that the country has many fishing boats but Sierra Leone still has huge challenges with regards to trained and qualify personnel. As a result Fishing Companies go elsewhere in searched of experts in Seafarers operations,” Executive Secretary confirmed.

Mr. Savage however expressed dismay to line ministries including the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (FMR), Ministry of Transport and Aviation (MTA), Ministry of Tertiary Education, among other key MDAs for not gracing the occasion after submitting invitation to all of them before the actual date but admonished graduates to maintain calm as the administration is still new and that the management of the Sierra Leone Seafarers’ Union will continued to engaged them on the important of the whole exercise and that out of the 212 only 150 graduates were available to receive their certifications whilst the others were already engaged with big fishing vessels with attractive salaries.

Furthermore, Mr. Savage also disclosed that, the Ministry of Tertiary Education who supposed to have signed these certificates way back, has not even endorsed the certificates of the 212 graduates even though the Union tries its best to advocate for the release of the documents but he said at the end of the ceremony unless they have to issue white papers to the students in the hope that they would receive certifications later if the ministry shows consideration for the future of these young people but he also congratulate graduates for undertaking the intensive training course and wish them well.

He reiterated that the Fishing Industry of Sierra Leone is full of Laborers because the government of Sierra Leone does not have such standard training institutions like other countries and that these foundation trainings will serve as a platform for introductory courses which will be extend to certification of confidence in a bid to complement government effort to young people as human capital investment.

He appealed to government and International partners to come onboard and support the process together while he also pay tribute to past members who have been in the fight to promote Maritime Industry.

On their own side, one of the graduates, Mohamed Bangura, on behalf of students expressed profound gratitude to the entire management and staff of the Sierra Leone Seafares’Union for creating such platform for them and assured the general public of quality delivery in the maritime industry.

By Alhassan Bangura

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