All–out efforts to facilitate seafarers: Ali Zaidi

Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Syed Ali Haider Zaidi held the Third Quarterly meeting with Seafarers and Registered Manning Agent on 06/03/2020 at Pakistan National Shipping Corporation Karachi.

The first two such meetings were held in August and November last year where issues faced by seafarer community were voiced by both fresh graduates of the Pakistan Marine Academy and those who are already serving in the field.

After taking the oath in 2018, Ali Zaidi established a hotline for complaints about Maritime Affairs, which started receiving the complaints about the problems being faced by the community for the last 70 years.

Prioritizing the resolution of these issues, the ministry resolved all the major ones that our seafarers were facing while serving in Pakistan and abroad.

One of the major issues was Sign-on/Sign-off that a seafarer had to comply with before joining a foreign vessel.

It not only wasted their precious time, but also in some cases the job opportunity was lost.  It has been abolished and now the seafarers have to produce their documents at airports to leave for their assignment conveniently.

Another concern was the mismanagement in the Government Shipping Office Karachi which has been resolved by bringing order resulting in issuance of Seamen Service Books and other documents without delay.

The digitization of the shipping office and online access is underway which will be launched in a couple of months.

In addition to the above, for the convenient issuance of the medical certificate for seafarers, the board of doctors has been expanded and now the medical facility is present in cities other than Karachi too.

As far as the Machine Readable Seamen Identity Cards are concerned the system was set up with the help of NADRA and KPT and the permanent facility will be ready as soon as the system is ready which is expected in May 2020. The funds have already been released for this.

For the creation of job opportunities for young cadets, the Ministry has come up with a road map which will be implemented as soon as the details are finalized.

But till then for bringing diversification in the experience of the young cadets, they are being allocated on dredgers working on all three ports.

Federal Minister Ali Haider Zaidi has been actively pursuing the Visa issue faced by our seafarers and has already written a letter requesting MOFA to employ the diplomatic channels for its resolution.

In his IMO address in London, Ali Zaidi invited the world to employ our capable seafarers and benefit from their expertise.

Moreover, during his meeting with Iranian and Turkish Ministers and Ambassadors from different countries, he has been vouching for this cause which has started getting positive response.

“Globally, there are 1.6 million seafarers working on merchant vessels while majority of them hail from the Phillipines, which earned a massive USD 6.1 bn in 2018.

We need to facilitate our human resource by eradicating red-tapism and by providing them requite resources for diversification in their expertise so that they can compete on the global market.

We started resolving the issues gradually and now, except a couple of issues the rest has been resolved.

I have a firm belief that Pakistani human resource is not less than people of any other nationality and once given the right opportunities can do wonders” Ali Zaidi stated.