Namibian officers ready to take up their rightful place

A newly founded association says priority should be given to Namibians when it comes to filling up advertised vacancies and position manning within the maritime sector.

14 July 2019 | Fishing

Philip Iwete; Namosa Chairman; . . . resistance came from most of the industry players, especially foreign counterparts.

Walvis Bay - Otis Finck

The Namibian Maritime Officers and Shipping Association (Namosa) has called on players in the maritime industry to adopt the slogan “Namibians first” and to address the replacement of foreigners on the country’s fishing fleet with urgency.

Philip Iwete, the chairman of Namosa, said Namibian Fisheries Institute (Namfi) graduates who penetrated the industry as maritime officers are facing many hurdles upon finishing their sea time training.

“We came on board to take over positions as Namibians and found it extremely difficult to navigate the resistance and negative treatment from foreign nationals and the industry. The resistance came from most of the industry players, especially foreign counterparts. It appears that Namibian maritime officers are not being tolerated by most expatriates who seemed threatened by the emergence of local seafarers.”

He said some foreigners had reached pensionable age and emphasised that most do not pay taxes to government coffers.

“This results in millions of lost tax revenue. There are also huge discrepancies when comparing the salaries of local and foreign officers. The issuing of work permits to foreign employees should also be regulated properly. Critical skills should be retained through a stringent vetting process to ensure Namfi graduates roaming the streets without jobs are employed. The graduates are tired of being issued with certificates and told to go and sit at home.”

Iwete also pointed out that the number of graduates is alarmingly high with supply outweighing demand while Namfi continues recruiting trainees.

“The reality is that people are being trained to end up on the street. This is a matter of concern and has become the norm in recent years. It must come to an end and has led to a situation where some well experienced marine officers have left the occupations they were initially trained for and took up jobs in the mining and other industries. This is a waste. Money has been poured into the process of training Namibian officers without any formal engagement between Namfi graduates and various ministries.”

He added that training procedures are also not being followed as per initial cadetship programmes and guidelines, and that employment saturation in the industry has noticeably reached its peak.

According to Iwete the reluctance to transfer skills in the industry has also prolonged the Namibianisation process which is being used as a pawn to import skills at the expense of Namibians.

“Failures and loopholes in the policy are used by some right holders to exploit and undermine programmes and policies meant to accelerate the Namibianisation drive. Some companies are using fronting and window-dressing for the sake of quota granting.”

Iwete explained that Namosa is a non-political, non-religious and non-governmental institution which strives to maintain employment fairness, equal standards of training and certification of watch-keeping for all seagoing officers.

“We plan to ensure adherence to the Namibian and International Maritime Laws with regard to the ranking balance on board vessels. We also want to see that all vessels flying the Namibian flag are manned by well-trained and qualified Namibian marine officers in aid of creating a positive image of the marine industry.”

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