MTS Lagos has assisted over 200 seafarers in a year, says Sarumi

MTS Lagos has assisted over 200 seafarers in a year, says Sarumi

Kathy Kyari 
 Over 200 seafarers have been assisted in the last one year, Chairman, Mission to Seafarers (MTS), Lagos, Chief Adebayo Sarumi has said.
MTS is an international non-governmental organisation. 

 Sarumi said this at the 2023 Annual Sea Sunday Service of the mission held in Lagos.

The service had the theme: “The Importance of Seafarers to our Well being and Global Economy.”

Sarumi stressed that the seafarers centre was undergoing renovation at the moment but needed more attention, modification and innovation to be able to receive seafarers.

He listed the services rendered by the MTS to the seafarers as: legal advocacy, spiritual, physical, psychological support and other.

According to Sarumi, the services helped to calm the storm in the seafarers’ lives.

“The mission to seafarers is open to all religious beliefs, all nations, gender and colour and they need assistance due to the type of environment they operate in.
“In addition to physical danger due to travel by sea, they are also in danger of suicide, long voyage without shore leaves, psychological illness, piracy and armed attack and others.

“We provide home from home for seafarers or a safe transit point when they leave the vessel, attend to their welfare so that they can maintain our way of life and needs.

“With over 3,000 ships visiting Lagos, the centre is strategic to seafarers support and so the need to pay attention to upgrading the centre,” he said.

The chairman called for support in providing vehicles to visit the ship and bringing the seafarers out of their enclaves, provide them means of communication with their families, relief when stranded in foreign countries.

Contributing, Rev. Bimbo Aduroja, Chaplain, MTS, said that between last year and this year, they were able to go for regular ship visiting, meeting the seafarers, going on board and asking after their wellbeing.

 Aduroja explained that when they go on-board, their major target are foreign seafarers visiting the country from different part of the world such as China, Australia and others.

He disclosed that the ongoing renovation work at the centre was through the intervention of their chairman and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).

“Between two to three months, the centre will be ready. This is the first stage, renovation of the building, swimming pool. We still have empty lands that we want to work on,” he said.

Also, Rev. Emmanuel Ilori, the Assistant Chaplain, MTS, said that the issue of shore leave was a global problem.

Ilori noted that it was the reason they bring them ashore to have a change, break from the stressful environment where they live.

“The shore leave is a serious and global problem because we find out that some nations do not allow seafarers to go ashore.

“ You can imagine working in that stressful environment and you just want to take a break from the ship and you are not allowed to.

“In Nigeria, we make sure we go to see them and there is an advocacy with government to ensure that Nigeria is a leading nation that attend to visiting seafarers.
“With the upgrading at our centre, it will ensure that Nigeria plays a major role in attending to challenges of seafarers,” he said.

Earlier, Rt. Rev. Olusola Odedeji, Supervising Bishop, Diocese of Lagos, Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion, in his sermon urged the Lagos State Government to ensure that the mission to seafarers get the needed assistance, support in carrying out their mandate.

Odedeji noted that caring for seafarers had to do with preaching and proclaiming the word of God and live out the life of Christ so that more souls would be cared for.

According to Odedeji, mission is the heartbeat of God and has to do with touching lives, reaching the unreachable and others.

“It is of necessity to care for seafarers because it’s a command from God to go and teach all nations, a crown will be won and God will ask one what he did with his life,” Odedeji said.

Ilori said that mission understands the challenge of no-shore-leave that seafarers face, which hurts their mental health. And, it is a very important reason the mission offers its hand of care to give the seafarers a sense of love outside of the ship.

“The issue of shore leave is a big problem globally, when seafarers, after months of being at sea would not be able to go out. That is why we now say we can see them, bring them ashore to have a break from that stressful environment. That is why the Mission to Seafarers is very critical; at over 250 ports and in over 50 countries globally, I think that the IMO and the global maritime community would take the mission to seafarers very seriously. It is interesting,” Rev. Ilori added.

Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Princess Vicky Haastrup, called on the maritime industry stakeholders to also support what she described as “a very noble cause” being undertaken by the MTS Lagos, in support of seafarers, who stay committed to their duty to ensure that trade is kept going.

Her words: “These are people who spend as long as three to six months at sea away from their family. They sometimes fall sick, suffer pirates’ attacks. We know what it is when we are away from our family, and imagine that they suffer turbulence at sea.

“It is great that a day like this is set aside to give attention to remember them for what they are doing to keep trade going. The seafarers do a lot of sacrifices and their welfare should be given all the attention it requires too, when we pray for them and create a place where they can go and have fun and unwind from all the stress.”

Haastrup called for the sensitisation of port operators on the need to support the MTS Lagos as she said: “The mission needs money to survive and support the seafarers. I am ceasing this opportunity to call on my colleagues to stand up to this call and support this mission on this noble work. I think it is fair to give such support.”

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