Commissioner Lighe Wants LMTI Upgraded To University Level

MONROVIA – The Liberian maritime program is regarded for its consistent excellence and innovation in service delivery in the global maritime industry. To this end, the Commissioner /CEO of the Liberia Maritime Authority (LiMA), Cllr. Neto Zarzar Lighe, Sr. has placed, at the core of his leadership’s strategic vision, the need to enhance the program capabilities to remain competitive in the constantly evolving global maritime industry.

Cllr. Lighe spoke at the 3rd graduation ceremony of the Liberia Maritime Training Institute  (LMTI) on Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Marshall, Margibi County. 

Commissioner Lighe stressed that this feat would require investing in continuous training of a highly skilled workforce that is inclined to discipline, innovation, and able to foster strong networks in the working environment.

Commissioner /CEO of the Liberia Maritime Authority (LiMA), Cllr. Neto Zarzar Lighe, Sr. presenting certificate to LiMA graduates

“It is thus critically important that we take deliberate steps aimed 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,” he pointed out. The commissioner bemoaned the low number of females enrolled in the institution and promised to work more diligently to increase the present enrollment statistics of only two females out of the twenty-four cadets who graduated. This record of low female enrollment has been consistent since the school started putting graduates out.

He said it is based on the uncompromising desire to continue on the path of excellence that he is endeavoring to improve and expand the existing infrastructure of the Liberia Maritime Training Institute (LMTI) which sits at the “core of our vision for the maritime sector of Liberia”. This vision, according to him, encapsulates expanding the campus of the institution to provide a more realistic training environment. Towards this end, facilities such as the academic building and staff housing quarters should be renovated; also, the student dormitory requires expansion to cater to the contemplated increase in enrollment at the institution. And the greater vision to upscale the LMTI to a full-fledged university that will provide all marine disciplines at Bachelor and Master degrees level.”

The LiMA Boss charged the new graduates of the LMTI to protect and carry forward the rich heritage of having an internationally renowned and reputed maritime program built over the years. 

Graduates of LiMA

He averred that the vision for infrastructural improvement at the LMTI aligns with President Joseph Nyumah Boakai’s strategic goal of increasing the enrollment at the institution from the current number of just twenty-four (24) students per training cycle to an appreciable number that reflects Liberia’s readiness to supply the maritime industry with trained professionals on a large scale. 

“Liberia’s position as an important player in the global maritime industry demands that we also be a major supplier of trained and professional seafarers to the industry. The current enrollment numbers at the LMTI are a far cry from enabling Liberia to 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 that has vast opportunities for job creation, sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction,” Commissioner Lighe emphasized.

He stressed that while it is important to train professional seafarers on the Liberian soil, he is not oblivious to the fact that these trained and skilled young people must be provided opportunities to advance themselves or get employed. 

“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 allowed 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. The LMTI has had an enviable record of ensuring the placement of its graduates on board vessels around the world. 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,” Commissioner Lighe stated. 

 He added “To our distinguished graduates, 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 opened to fresh perspectives. 

 We are 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.”

 Cllr. Lighe warned the graduates against engaging in acts that are inimical to the reputation of the Liberian maritime program. 

 “We have been informed that some of our Liberian seafarers and cadets employed with vessels engaged in international trade have been involved in 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 Seafearer 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 shipjumping 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!” He maintained.

 In remarks, President Joseph N. Boakai said the graduation aligns with his administration’s desire to ensure Liberians obtain the skills needed to compete in the job market.

 “By pursuing studies at this prestigious institution, you are genuinely placing yourself on an enviable track of human resource development.”

 “You are not just cadets; you are graduates who are going to be amongst those shining stars that help the name of Liberia illuminate so brightly in the comity of nations.”

 President Boakai further applauded the cadets, saying, “It is not just your family who is proud of you; the government and people of Liberia are honestly proud of the feat you have achieved here today.”

 “Go out there and raise the flag of Liberia so high,” President Boakai added while admonishing the graduates to do their very best.

The Liberian leader instructed the Board of Directors of the Liberia Maritime Authority to review the expansion plan and act accordingly. 

LMTI has also disclosed plans to offer an MEO Class-3 Preparatory Course for future Marine Engineer Officers, a 6-month program to be conducted for the first time in Liberia. Making the announcement at a program marking the graduation exercise of cadets from LMTI, the General Manager of LMTI, Tal Hendler, said the program would not only benefit Liberia but also extend to the larger region.

 “Before I take my seat, I would like to inform all of our distinguished guests that LMTI is planning to offer a Marine Engineer Officer Program (MEO Class-3),” he stated.

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