President Sirleaf made the assertion Monday, January 21, when she observed the hoisting of the LMTI flags, thereby reopening of the Institute in Marshall City after more than 23 years of closure.
Eighty cadets (nine females and 71 males) have been recruited from a pool of 618 applicants for the training program, the Executive Mansion said.
The Liberian leader reminded the audience, particularly the young cadets, that the flags hoisted, especially the National Colors, personify the heritage, identity and pride as a nation and people. “Today is a celebration of tradition; but more importantly, it is a celebration of hope, progress and inspiration,” she said.
President Sirleaf indicated that because of the civil conflict, the tradition was allowed to lapse for more than two decades. Today's ceremony was renewing hope which allows Liberia to dream of a true maritime nation, and of progress epitomized by the young cadets at the Institute. “This progress inspires our youth to strive for a brighter future through maritime education, training and capacity building,” President Sirleaf stressed.
Earlier, four flags were hoisted on the Institute's campus. They included the National Colors, and those of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the Liberia Maritime Authority (LMA), and the Liberia Marine Training Institute (LMTI).
The hoisting of the flags, according to Maritime Engineer Donald Gwaikolo, represents the coherence, commitment, cooperation and consistency between four major bodies in fostering cordial understanding, knowledge and proficiency in maritime management, education, operation and support. “The Republic of Liberia, IMO, LMA and the LMTI stand on the 4Cs corner of the maritime development square, to take the Liberian flag to the next level in the maritime community,” he said.
Speaking earlier, Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer of the Authority, Mr. Binyah Kesselly, identified capacity building as a priority area, which he says will be unrelenting as his vision is to train about 10,000 Liberians in the next six years.
He paid homage to the senior executives and the over 200 hard-working staff of LMA and LMTI. “The collective effort here can never be underscored and can never be forgotten,” he noted, adding, “As we pay homage to our nation, responsibility to the IMO, the training agenda of the LMA, especially the LMTI, I want to say a big thank you to all of you.”
Addressing the cadets, he said: “We will train you, equip you, certificate and market you. When you are employed, you have to keep your jobs and be shining examples of what the LMTI has imparted, most importantly, what you as young men and women will do going forward.”
Also making remarks, the Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the LMA, Mrs. Theresa Leigh Sherman, said the day marked the beginning of a tradition that the Institute aims to continue far into the future.
She said the Board is excited about the endless possibilities that will now exist for Liberian youth, especially in the maritime sector. “You have our commitment to ensure that the LMTI remains a center of excellence,” she said.
The LMTI aims to train pre-seafarers, offshore oil and gas workers, thereby meeting the needs of a shortage of trained seafarers in the global maritime marketplace. Initially established in 1979 and named the Union Marine Training Institute, it originally operated under the auspices of the Mano River Union comprising Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea until 1988 when the Liberian Government acquired full ownership.
As with most other national institutions, the LMTI experienced a forced closure due to the civil conflict, which consequently led to the deterioration of the Institute's infrastructure and training equipment. In 2007, the LMTI underwent major renovation and some new construction which was completed in 2009.
The 80 young cadets are being trained in three major disciplines: General Purpose Rating (GPR) Engine and Deck Departments; Maritime Search and Rescue Basics; and Catering. They will also be trained in the following IMO mandatory courses: Fire Prevention and Fire Fighting; Elementary First Aid; Personal Survival Techniques; Personal Safety and Social Responsibilities; International Ship and Port Security Training; and Tanker Familiarization.