The Ship-owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) has revealed that some of its members could not take some Cadets of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) on board for training after being paid to do so because the vessels were not designed to accommodate female cadets.

This is even as the ship-owners association pledged to hold a meeting with the Maritime Academy this week to determine how its members will refund some monies collected for the training programme.

SOAN President, Dr MK George Onyung, stated that: “The training agreement between the Maritime Academy and SOAN was an experimental initiative that was bound to have teething issues. The vessels that were to be used for the training of MAN cadets are mostly double-bunk vessels and there was no way we could put men and women together in the same room.”

“Most of the female cadets could not go on board for training due to the way the vessels were configured. In the vessels, we have three bunks in a room and we couldn’t put the females in the same room with the male cadets to avoid a situation where cadets could get abused. If such happens, the ship-owner will take responsibility and this will backfire on the entire focus of the training programme.”

“For those cadets that could not go on board for training, the money received from the Maritime academy will be refunded. We will be having a meeting with the Maritime academy this week to know how best the laudable initiative can be sustained going forward.”

“We have vessels that cost 30 million Dollars in our fleet as ship-owners, so why would any ship-owner want to go to jail over N8 million or N2 million?

“I have just returned from a trip and already planned that we will meet with the Maritime academy this week and resolve all outstanding issues including the refund of any unused portion of payments received by the concerned members of SOAN.”

“It is pertinent to reiterate that SOAN takes the training of future seafarers seriously because it is the bedrock of sustainability of our marine investments and Industry. With an ageing seafarers pool in the country and the technological advancement in shipping, the importance of training of cadets cannot be over-emphasized.”

The Rector of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Commodore Duja Effedua confirmed that the institution indeed wrote the SOAN over the refund of un-utilised funds meant for training of the academy’s cadet.

In his words: “We didn’t know some of our female cadets won’t be able to benefit from the training before paying the ship-owners, and that is why we wrote the SOAN for a refund because the money belongs to the Academy. We need a refund of all un-utilized funds for proper accountability.

“We had already paid them (ship-owners) before the issue of females not being able to go onboard with their male counterparts came up.”

It would be recalled that MAN, in a letter dated January 30th, 2020, which was addressed to the President of SOAN, demanded a refund of unused funds meant for the training of cadets for their Student Industrial Training Experience Scheme (SIWES) programme. The management of MAN, Oron, had entered into a pact with SOAN as part of efforts aimed at getting cadets of the academy the mandatory sea time experience onboard indigenous vessels.