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Some cadets of the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) have written to the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to solicit financial assistance amid the economic challenges in the Philippines, where they have been mobilised for training.
In the letter obtained by SaharaReporters, the cadets under the memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the LERUS Maritime Academy Ukraine said they arrived in the Philippines in batches on April 11, 2022 and May 15, 2022, respectively for training and courses towards achieving the career’s licensed certificate of competence (COC).
They lamented the lack of proper accommodation noting that the rooms are congested with no study facility which makes it difficult to partake in online classes.
They further lamented challenges with regards to finance, procuring their visas and registration of more courses to be able to compete globally.
The letter addressed to the Director-General of NIMASA reads, “Greetings from the NIMASA-NSDP Cadets under the memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the LERUS Maritime Academy Ukraine, we arrived in two batches to the Philippines on 11th April 2022 and May 15th 2022 for our training and courses towards achieving the career’s licensed certificate of competence (COC) which will help us to properly navigate into the chosen professions as qualified international seafarers.
“We humbly wish to inform you that we arrived safely and have started our training and also bring to your notice, some pressing issues which ordinarily we as cadets, cannot afford in a highly inflated economy currently in the Philippines.
“Therefore, we urgently appeal to you to come to our aid as our sponsors and principal. Below are the respective issues we are currently facing:
“1. Accommodation: It is very important to be in a conducive environment where one can be able to concentrate and focus in whatsoever he wants to achieve especially when it’s academics, but our current condition and situation right now is a mere bed space.
“We neither study well nor focus where we are currently staying simply because it’s not suitable for studies especially, our keen interests to fly a green color in the coming examination.
“The rooms are overcrowded, packed tight and congested; our luggage cannot be arranged as there are no spaces, no wardrobe, no study facility like, chairs, table etc making online classes difficult, we cannot properly arrange things leading to unnecessary fatigue and mental stress which may further affect our upcoming COC license exams.
“Sir, with due regards, we don’t want to cause any misunderstanding between the LERUS or the dormitory managements or the NIMASA, but we plead that this place can serve as transition accommodation for one month as it is not convenient to stay here for the whole of six months as there are more affordable and more convenient dorms we can get if the same accommodation fund is given to us as in the first group of cadets lest we become affected mentally. Hence we are appealing to you as our sponsor to intervene.
“2. Finance: The Lerus management disbursed eight hundred and sixty four ($864) dollar to the first four cadets, and one thousand one hundred and four ($1,104) dollars to seventeen cadets each of this batch which he termed as feeding allowance to last us for 72 days for the first four cadets, and 90 days for the seventeen cadets respectively.
“Sir, we wish to inform you that we catered for all visa and travelling logistics such as visa fee, health insurance, PCR test, police character certificate, transportation and accommodation while processing our visa, transport from the airport to accommodation, quarantined expenses of the first four cadets upon our arrival to the Philippines, when we arrived in the Philippines, we had to hire buses that conveyed us to the dormitory.
“This took a lot from us that we had to even use part of the said feeding stipend, we tried to cut cost by cooking but have to eat outside the dormitory because we were asked to pay one thousand pesos each for a cooking ration before we could use the cooking facilities in the designated place of the dormitory, we transport to and from our training centers during some class days and practical, we have to subscribe at least five/six dollars($5/6) daily to the internet to enhance and access our online classes as the dormitory WiFi is unreliable, all these modalities are from the above feeding stipends from the Lerus management.
“3. Maritime Courses: the Lerus management only registered four courses which are; Basic safety training (mandatory courses), Advanced fire fighting ( AFF), Proficiency in Survival Craft and Rescue Boat (PSCRB) and Medical First Aid(MEFA) which may qualify us to participate in the forthcoming license examination.
“But we have learned that we still have mandatory courses and training which are the requirements to qualify us to be issued the Certificate of Competency (COC) such as the Global Maritime Distress and Safety Signals, (GMDSS/GOC) Engine-room Resource Management (ERM), Bridge Resource Management (BRM), Electronic Chart Display System(ECDIS), Dynamic position (DP) High voltage and Hydrogen sulfide (H2S).
“We also wish to arrange for ourselves other courses which will also help to propel us farther and be marketable in the competitive global profession,
“Visa: Another major factor is that of our visas, the duration of our courses and training towards achieving the COC is approximately five/six months, but currently, our visa reads fifty nine days.
“The visa of the first four cadets who arrived earlier will be expiring by June 9th 2022, and that of the second batch will be on or before the end of July 2022.
“We have to ensure we apply for visa extension before the period elapses and things become worse, which will cost us financial penalty if we fail to renew on time meanwhile, the Lerus management has refused to take up the responsibility for the renewal of the visas, which means we will have to do it by ourselves.
“With these, we hereby request that: 1) We will stay here for one month and then money for accommodation for other months be given to us to get convenient and affordable place.
“2) We suggest that, the Lerus Batch four cadets or subsequent batches should use this same dormitory as transition and familiarization center for one month until any upfront payment finishes if already paid for.
”3) We will unforgettably appreciate if NIMASA as our sponsor really considers these and helps with something tangible in addition to the already promised allowance for us.
“Upon estimation, we realised that it will cost between the sum of $6,000 to $6,500 to be able to actualise all these especially knowing that the maritime courses are cheaper in the Philippines than any other place in the world.
“We would humbly be grateful if our request can be kindly considered as we look forward to hearing a favorable response from you.”