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USET: Gambian sailors graduate with STCW course program

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By Mamour .M Mbenga (Kifa)

The crew members of the Association of Gambian Sailors (AGS) on Thursday 1st Decembers were awarded with marine certificates on Standard Training Certificate and Watch Keeping (STCW) as stakeholders trained 100 sailors who joined a colorful graduation ceremony at GTTI now renamed as University of Applied Science, Engineering and Technology main campus in Kanifing.

The institute for Technical Training now called USET started offering various maritime courses on basic training program for potential seafarers.

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The University of Applied Science Engineering & Technology (USET) in partnership with Gambia Maritime Administration (GMA), and Gambia Port Authority (GPA) host the first premier cohort training of one hundred (100) students from the sailors’ association.

The short course program was initiated by GMA and GPA after a consultancy report made, the vocational and technical institute administered the intensive two weeks STCW course program.

The program delivery focuses on the following areas; Safety Familiarization and basic training for all categories of workers board ferries, tug boats, Fishing Vessels, Competency Training for deck/engineering officers and ratings onboard ferries, tugboats and Competency Training for Shore based personnel.

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Sectary General Association of Gambian Sailor, Mr. Abdou Sanyang expressed his delight to all stakeholders for facilitating this opportunity to train crew members with standard qualification.

Adding that the STCW training will reduce the occurrence of accidents and causalities on board as safety is their top priority.

Mr. Sanyang quotes the working condition of fishing vessels as “the most dangerous job in the world” he said fishing boats are mobile platforms floating in an environment that is alien to human nature. He said most often sailors work under deck in hazardous conditions because of slippery decks, lighting and ventilation.

“On top of all that fishing vessels often conduct their duties in remote and hostile locations, in open seas, several nautical miles from the nearest coast line”.

“They spend long periods at sea or at fishing grounds which leaves the crew with little time to rest, added to the poor-quality food they consume and consequently makes fishing one of the worst safety record jobs in modern times”, he said.

Mr. Sanyang said they have a registered membership of more than three – thousands (3,000) employees benefitting from sea – going contracts.

He said the aims and objectives of AGS are to handle matters pertaining to the recruitment of stevedores, to work in fishing trawlers and merchant ships, he said AGS promotes economic benefits and social interest of sailors.

Mrs. Anna Mbenga Cham the Director of Fisheries at the graduation said the goal of the fisheries sector is to promote a vibrant fisheries and aquaculture sector through research, sustainable management and utilization of the fisheries resources that would enhance employment and livelihood opportunities, income and foreign exchange earnings, food, and nutrition security.

She said the fisheries department recognizes the Sailor’s Association labor contribution in the fishing industry as clearly enshrined in the sector’s legal framework that for any fishing vessel to acquire license, 20% of the crew must be Gambians.

Mrs. Mbenga Cham added that this compliment is one of the sector’s policies to create employment opportunities for the youths in the fishing industry.

Speaking during the graduation ceremony held at the University of Applied Science, Engineering and Technology (USET, Honorable Mr. Bakary Badjie Minister of Youth and Sports said the training will allow the youth to prepare for the job market.

Minister added that The Gambia just like other countries that have a youthful population, he said out of 2 million populations 62 are below 30 years and it is same category that battles with social challenges. Mr. Badjie emphasis the inadequate educational opportunities lead to a high authority in fulfillment of a consultancy report.

A senior marine surveyor officer Ebrima Kebbeh staff at the Gambia Maritime Administration (GMA) enlighten the sailors the need to take responsibilities and main professional work standard onboard after receiving the following STCW course program.

Kebbeh who doubles as a Maritime Safety and Security Manager at GMA further urges sailors to maintain discipline and good team work while onboard. “Whenever your preparations at sea is poor; the sea worms its way in and find problems”, he said.

Mr. Alieu Saine the Registrar of the USET noted that the program was initiated by GMA, GPA in fulfillment of a consultancy report.

Saine said the course program become overwhelming as a result of a request from Dion Truise Gambia who got ship board placement opportunities for Gambians.

Adding that since the start of the program in the mid- October 2021, over 1,000 personnel have so far been trained using a two – week duration time table.

He said majority of the personnel’s trained works in the tourism industry, adding that the Sailors Association also benefited in training its crew members in the last phase of the cohort that completed the program on the 8th of April 2022.

Source: Fisheries & AGS Data; From January to date AGS have employed 354 youth and on rotational have over 3,000 employees benefitting from sea job opportunities.

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