Seafarers have protested the prolonged stay aboard vessels, which is beyond the normal length of time.

Infinity Tyres

It was gathered that their prolonged stay on the vessels was as a result of lack of crew change occasioned by the COVID-19 lockdown in some states.

Apart from Nigeria, all over the world, vessels have neglected to change their crew members because of the pandemic.

The prolonged stay on the vessels is said to be increasing the frustration of seafarers in Nigeria, making some of them display violent behaviours.

The Deputy President General of Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, Douglas Eromoboh, raised the alarm recently when two seafarers stabbed each other onboard.

He said all over the oil platforms and rigs, seafarers were attacking their captains because they wanted to go home.

Eromobor threatened that the union could be forced to take a drastic action that would lead to shutting down the oil and gas sector.

He said workers in the upstream sector were not deemed essential service providers by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.

He advised the governors of Lagos and Rivers states to request for a meeting with the President-General of MWUN, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, on how the seafarers could be easily taken off the vessels.

He said, “The seafarers are crying that they have overstayed aboard vessels and they want to go home. The International law says that every seafarer should stay onboard vessel for three months or six months latest. But all of them are stuck on board because of lockdown.

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“They have now started fighting their captains. They are even almost killing one another right now. I just got a report where a seafarer stabbed another because he is crazy.’’

Eromoboh accused the Federal Government of ignoring the fact that crew change is supposed to last between three months and six months, adding that the government must recognise that seafarers have a special job and are recognised internationally.

He stated, “Seafarers are going crazy now; they are becoming crazy and lunatics. For a seafarer to stay six months onboard a vessel, he is no longer normal. If a naval man stays on board a vessel for more than four months, there would be mutiny because he is tired and wants to go to his family.

“We have seafarers on oil platforms, oil rigs, onboard vessels and so on, but right now, Wike has said that if seafarers are not cleared of the COVID-19 virus, they should not go on board vessels.

“Right now, we are facing a lot of problems because where the crude oil is being refined, where they are loading and offloading, we have seafarers all over. If care is not taken, the PTF would cause commotion in this country. Nobody is looking at protecting the seafarers and crew exchange.”

He maintained that the government could not keep seafarers onboard vessels for one year or as long as the lockdown would last.