Lighe Wants Maritime Training Institute Upgraded -Expounds on Liberia’s Maritime Progress, Achievements

MONROVIA: The Commissioner General of the Liberia Maritime Authority, Cllr. Neto Zarzar Lighe, has made a compelling case for the expansion and improvement of the existing infrastructure of the Liberia Maritime Training Institute (LMTI) as to enable it “provide a more realistic training environment” that reflects the intent for which the institution was established.

He acknowledged the significant impact of the Liberia Maritime Training Institute, such as the quantum of graduates it has produced over the last three years, the Commissioner General and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Liberia Maritime Authority (LiMA).

Delivering special remarks at this year’s graduation program of the LMTI at which time 24 cadets graduated from the program, Lighe said the heritage of an internationally renowned and reputed maritime program at LMTI built over the years was something both the cadets and graduates need to protect and to carry forward.

He asserted that he was not “unaware of the fact that the constantly-evolving global maritime industry requires the continuous training of highly skilled workforce that is disciplined, innovative and capable of fostering strong networks in the working environment”.

He added: “It is thus critically important that we take deliberate steps at making the needed investment in improving the infrastructure of our maritime training program because strong maritime infrastructure plays a critical role in effective training for future seafarers.

“It is against this backdrop that improving and expanding the existing infrastructure of the Liberia Maritime Training Institute (LMTI) sits at the core of our vision for the maritime sector of Liberia. This vision encapsulates expanding the campus of the institution to provide a more realistic training environment.”

The Maritime boss said facilities such as the academic building and staff housing quarters of the institute need to be renovated, as well as the student dormitory which requires expansion to cater to the contemplated increase in enrollment at the institution.

He noted that a greater vision is to upscale the LMTI to a full-fledged university so that it provides all marine disciplines at Bachelor and Master degrees level.

CG Lighe further asserted: “Over the course of two years, you conquered the challenges of this rigorous training program at the Liberia Maritime Training Institute (LMTI) and you are now equipped with the knowledge and skills to embark on a remarkable career path at sea. The maritime industry is the lifeblood of global trade. It connects nations, spurs trade and commerce, fuels economies, and transports the very necessities that sustain our world. For more than half a century, the Liberian flag has been flown by vessels that have traversed the oceans, transporting essential goods for the global economy, contributing not only to our nation’s proud maritime heritage, but also to the very fabric of global trade.”

Lighe updated his boss, President Joseph Nyuma Boakai, on developments at the institute which, according to him, forms part of “the vision for infrastructural improvement at the LMTI aligning with your strategic goal of increasing the enrollment at the institution from the current number of just twenty (24) students per training cycle to an appreciable number that reflects our readiness to supply the maritime industry with trained professionals on a large scale”.

He also told the President: “Liberia’s position as an important player in the global maritime industry demands that she also be a major supplier of trained and professional seafarers to the industry. The current enrollment numbers at the LMTI is a far cry from enabling Liberia attain the status of being a major supplier of maritime labor.

“Hence, increasing the enrollment numbers at the LMTI is a quintessential item for this administration. Achieving the objectives of the ARREST agenda hinges on providing opportunities for education to young Liberians on a massive scale, especially in critical sectors like the maritime sector that has vast opportunity for job creation, sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction.”

He added: “Your Excellency, we are acutely aware that our responsibility does not begin or end with the training of professional workforce for the maritime industry; rather, we are also responsible for ensuring that those trained are afforded the opportunity to either seek further improvement in their professional training by enrolling at institutions like the Regional Maritime University, located in Ghana or other maritime training institutions around the world, or to seek employment on vessels straddling the national and international waters. In fact, the LMTI has had an enviable record of ensuring the placement of its graduates on board vessels around the world. And these graduates have over time demonstrated exceptional excellence and commitment in their services, and are thereby ably representing the flag of Liberia. Thanks to LISCR and LMTI Management for the tremendous job and it is our ardent hope that the institution remains vibrant and prosperous.”

He told President Boakai of a celebration program where the Liberia Maritime Authority in collaboration with other agencies in the Maritime Sector commemorated the International Day of Women in Maritime, “a day set aside to honor the courage and bravery of women in the maritime industry”.

He said at the official program marking the commemoration, he renewed the Liberia Maritime Authority’s commitment to investing in educational and training initiatives that empower females to embark on maritime careers, stressing that he specifically highlighted that the maritime authority takes deliberate steps at the Liberia Maritime Training Institute (LMTI) to boost female enrollment and provide an environment that nurtures their professional development.

“Your Excellency, thanks for reposing your confidence in us and we will not let you down. And thanks for your relentless support to the maritime sector. Congratulations, graduates! May your voyages be safe, your careers prosperous, and your journeys filled with the boundless spirit of Liberian maritime pride. And as you pursue your career on sea, I urge you to Think Liberia, Love Liberia, and Build Liberia.”

Turning to the graduates Lighe said: “The knowledge and skills you have acquired at the LMTI are the bedrock of your success in your future endeavors. As you set sail on your new journey, always remember that on the open seas, true excellence is forged in three crucial elements—discipline, innovation and commitment.

“The ocean demands unwavering focus and adherence to maritime regulations. Your dedication to safety will not only protect yourselves and your crew, but also uphold the esteemed reputation of the Liberian flag that you carry on your shoulders. Further, the maritime landscape is evolving every day and thus you must embrace new technologies, stay curious and be open to fresh perspectives.

“We aware that Liberia has a rich history of maritime ingenuity, and you have the potential to contribute to its next chapter. Lastly, the ship to which you may be employed in the future will be a home away from home. It will be a vessel navigated not by individuals, but by a team. You must therefore foster strong relationships with your fellow crewmates, cultivate clear communication and remember—you are all in it together. I must hasten to caution you that in the vast oceans and seas over which you shall soon be employed, there will be steep challenges, and difficult moments that may test your determination.

“We have been informed that some of our Liberian seafarers and cadets employed with vessels engaged in international trade have been involved into ship jumping, whereby they intentionally and illegally disregard their contractual obligation with the vessels on which they are employed by leaving the vessel and attempting to ‘stowaway’.

“This illegal and unpatriotic practice has cast enormous reputational damage on the Liberian Seafarer and has resulted in shipowners requiring that bond agreements be signed as a condition to employ them on vessels. These bond agreements are intended for parents of seafarers or other reputable people or institutions to guarantee that seafarers will remain committed to the vessel for the duration of their contracts.

“I must say that ship jumping is inexcusable and amounts to a grievous injury on the reputation of the Liberian flag! I strongly urge this batch of graduates to reverse the trend by honoring your contractual obligations with vessels and thereby redeeming the image and reputation of the flag you carry. You must be the vehicles that will pave the way for ship owners to once again begin to trust Liberian seafarers. Your task is to remain committed, disciplined and steadfast on the ocean. You must not bulge and most importantly, you must not jump ship because that is not representative of a disciplined seafarer!

“As the Commissioner/CEO of the Liberia Maritime Authority, I have unwavering faith in your potential. You are the future of Liberian maritime excellence. Go forth with courage, navigate with wisdom, and leave your mark on this dynamic industry. The world’s oceans await your contributions.”

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