The Bangladeshi government has prepared new rules for the seafarers as per the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) conditions amid strong opposition by coastal and fishing sea men, officials said.
It will create job opportunities for the country’s new and on-job mariners of merchant ships to the world’s largest ship owning group – European Union (EU).
Job opportunities in the 27-member economic bloc were restricted for the Bangladeshi seafarers so long as the country’s certification rules did not fully comply with the IMO conventions.
But only a few cadets or officers could afford to appear in expensive examinations in the UK to get jobs in the highly-paid EU nations-owned vessels.
Earnings from this service sector which is now ranging between US$ 180 million and $ 200 million a year will jump to $ 400 million or half a billion dollars within one or two years, according to senior officials working in the Department of Shipping (DoS).
“It’s a milestone of achievement. It will create huge job opportunities and remittance earnings,” Captain KM Jashim Uddin Sarker, chief nautical surveyor of DoS said.
Mr Jashim said the EU nations will now accept our certificates and appoint our officers.
Captain Kazi ABM Shameem, chief of Nautical Studies of Bangladesh Marine Academy said local talented marine officials and cadets remained outside of the large EU job market for long adding: “New rules will definitely create at least 7,000 more sea-related jobs immediately.”
DoS confers certificates on the seamen for professional posts of captains, chief officers, second officers, third officers, chief engineers, second engineers and third engineers under Standards of Trainings and Certification for Watch keeping for seafarers (STCW) of the IMO.
But, local seamen from coastal, fishing and Bangladesh Navy used to appear in the examinations and the DoS issued certificates to them. But IMO had been opposing it for long.
IMO officials during their visit in 2008 gave conditions including avoiding Bangladesh Navy cadets, fishing and coastal vessel officials.
The Ministry of Shipping formed a high-powered committee to prepare rules and it was obstructed by coastal vessel officials.
They even demonstrated in the streets against the government move.
Ariful Hoque, a frustrated coastal vessel official said: “My hope for becoming a master mariner has now been dashed following approval of the act.”
MoS said it has completed all procedures for the act styled Seafarers Certification Rules-2011.
A senior official at the MoS said the IMO wanted to make our examinations fully professional and we have made our rules as per their conditions.
According to DoS statistics, some 7,500 mariners are now working in vessels owned by different nations including Bangladesh.
The Philippines, Myanmar and India are now dominating the world’s marine sector to earn billions of dollars.
Around 400 cadets pass out from Bangladesh Marine Academy of Chittagong while 400 more join in the lucrative job from six private marine institutes.
A master mariner gets at least $ 10,000 a month while ratings (non-officials) get on an average $ 1200 a month.
Apart from this, several hundred cadets join in the job by getting certificates from other countries including India.