30 September 2021
World Maritime Day was celebrated with the theme – “Seafarers: At the Core of Shipping’s Future”, at an event held at IMA Complex Auditorium, Sector 35, Chandigarh.
The event was organized by the Merchant Navy Officers Association (MNOA), Chandigarh in association with Himachal Seafarers Association. The main focus of the event was to emphasize on the invaluable role seafarers play in building trade between countries which in turn gives a major boost to the world economy
The event started with the Welcome Address by Capt. TS Bhatia (President, MNOA). Speaking on the occasion, he said “The COVID-19 pandemic restrictions on travel and transit have severely impacted the seafarers. It has placed extraordinary strains on our job. Thousands of men and women could not be repatriated due to international travel restrictions, thus getting stranded on ships for months beyond their stipulated tour of duty. Similarly, a number of seafarers have been unable to join ships and earn their living.”
Capt Bhatia further said, “If designated as ‘key workers’ by the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways of India, Indian seafarers will be able to play a pivotal role in the global supply chain in the future through implementation of high-quality crew change protocols and SOPs supported by the Indian government.”
“This crew change crunch has been ongoing for nearly a year and a half. It’s a humanitarian crisis that threatens the safety of shipping. We request the concerned authorities to look into this matter and resolve it soon for the well-being of seafarers and the world economy,” added Iqbal Singh, Vice President of Merchant Navy Officers Association, Chandigarh.
The event brought the importance of the role of seafarers into focus. It was brought to light that during the pandemic, seafarers have become the world’s forgotten essential workers. As crews on cargo ships, they help move 90% of global trade and form vital links in the world’s supply chains. These restrictions, in turn, exacerbate a shortage of labor on cargo ships.
Eminent Dignitaries from the maritime industry, Capt. Sanjay Parashar, Capt. KJS Sujlana, Rear Admiral Sandeep Beecha and Capt. Prabhat Nigam presented their valuable insights as well.
The program concluded with final thoughts from Guest of Honor Vice Admiral HS Malhi, who drew the attention of the audience towards the challenges faced by seafarers’ during the pandemic.
“Himachal Seafarers Association” was represented by Capt. Vishal Thakur, Vice President and Capt. Sanjay Prashar, General Secretary (Member National Shipping Board).