Sri Lankan seafarer sector to get a boost – Namal Rajapaksa | Sunday Observer

Sri Lankan seafarer sector to get a boost – Namal Rajapaksa

27 February, 2022

Sports, Digital Infrastructure and Youths Affairs Minister Namal Rajapaksa on Friday pledged to boost the maritime sector in the country in order to provide more lucrative employment for Seafarer hopefuls.

He was speaking at a passing out event of 24 male and female Seafarer interns were officially handed provided with their ‘Seaman’s Passport’ also known as the CDC that is needed to gain employment on a ship in whatever category at the Mahaweli Authority Auditorium in Colombo.

“The Government will provide assistance, encouragement and whatever else is needed to improve this sector and was prepared to cooperate and work with all stake holders towards this end”, Minister Rajapaksa said.

Talented youth

He said that this program must also spread to the rural areas as there was talented youth in those regions.

The Minister thanked the National Union of Seafarers Sri Lanka (NUSS), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and others who helped in organising this program for Seafarer interns.

At present there some 16,000 active Sri Lankan Seafarers in the country and we hope to increase this number to 50,000 at the very earliest, Ports and Shipping Minister Rohitha Abeygoonawardene said.

The training induced to the interns included Personal Safety and Social Responsibilities, Fire Prevention and Fire Fighting, Elementary First Aid, Personal Survival techniques, Maritime English Language Course (Support Level) and Pre-Sea Training Course for Deck Trainees, NUSS President Palitha Athukorale said.

The program started in June 2021 and ended on January 10 2022, he said.


The cadre that included three females selected for this program were mainly from underprivileged homes, migrant workers who had lost employment owing to the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic and others with a serious interest in following this profession.

He said the NUSS along with assistance from the State authorities, the ILO and others are hoping to have similar training programs for Seafarers in the near future.

He said that it was encouraging to note that five leading Crew Manning Agents (CMA) in the country have already offered to provide the interns with practical training on board vessels along with an allowance.

“The Government’s pledge to improve the sector deserves much praise and we at the NUSS are prepared to offer our cooperation and assistance in whatever way that may be required”, Athukorale said.

A seafarer intern could fetch something like US$ 1,300 or Rs. 300,000-plus as a monthly wage along with other benefits which they are entitled to while sailing, Athukorale said.


General Secretary of the Sri Lanka Nidhas Sevaka Sangama (SLNSS) Leslie Devendra said that this particular program was a wonderful concept and one that has to be encouraged right down to the wire.

In terms of foreign exchange earnings he said that the Sri Lankan Seafarers would be able to rake in a sizeable when compared with other migrant workers.

“While at present an average Sri Lankan domestic worker earns US$ 250 a Seafarer will receive something like US$ 1,200-1,300 which is a huge difference and a valuable contribution to country’s foreign exchange earnings and this could not come at a better time”, Devendra said.

He said that every effort must be made to improve the number of qualified Seafarers in the country since the country is located in a strategic maritime hub and the employment prospects are huge.

International Transport workers’ Federation (ITF) Colombo Inspector Ranjan Perera said that at present there is a huge demand for qualified and trained Sri Lanka Seafarers by international shipping companies.


“It was only the other day that the ITF headquartered in London described the Sri Lankan Seafarers as one of the best in the whole of Asia, if not in the entire world.

The ITF, that looks into the welfare of Seafarers is an international maritime trade union based in more than 150 countries and packs a membership of an estimated 18 million.

Pix: By Thusara Fernando