FAJINAH Jaafar, 61, is set to be the first female certified seafarer in Penang after earning her certificate of competency (COC) in seafaring due to sheer hard work.
The grandmother with three grandchildren could barely contain her happiness when she received her certificate from Penang Deputy Chief Minister I Datuk Ahmad Zakiyuddin Abdul Rahman at a graduation ceremony at Universiti Sains Malaysia.
“Words can’t express my excitement. I almost gave up as the seafaring course was not easy. Due to my age, I needed to put in more effort to study after returning from the sea every day.
“I am grateful that I persevered as I have learnt so much about maritime law,” she said.
Fajinah was among nine fisherfolk aged between 30 and 64 from south Penang island who passed the state Marine Department’s course to become certified seafarers.
They are the first group to take the course under the Penang South Islands (PSI) social impact management plan (SIMP).
The “Domestic Mate Less Than 500 Gross Tonnage” course was held from Feb 28 to March 6 this year.
Those who passed the written assessment at the end of the course subsequently sat for their oral test at the Marine Department on April 21 and 22.
The course covers chartwork, rules and regulations, meteorology, general knowledge of ships and engineering, general training and a Restricted Operator Certificate.
Haris Abdullah, 62, was happy he finally achieved his dream to get a seafarer’s licence together with his 30-year-old son.
“I have been a fisherman for 40 years. I was excited to learn more about international maritime law during the course,” he said.
Fisherman Loo Tang Nee, 42, said he learnt a lot and would now be well-prepared for emergencies at sea.
“I am glad my family was supportive as the course was tough.
“I hope that with the seafarer’s licence, I can earn extra income by ferrying tourists or anglers.”
Ahmad Zakiyuddin, who is also Penang Islamic affairs, cooperatives and community empowerment committee chairman, said the course was in line with the state’s intention to create more opportunities for fisherfolk under SIMP.
“Those who obtained the licence are now qualified to pilot passenger boats carrying up to 12 people.
“This gives them a chance to earn additional income in the tourism sector,” he said in his speech at the ceremony.
He noted that as of May 31, 343 fishermen had registered for SIMP.
To ensure that the fisherfolk’s jobs would not be affected by the PSI project, Ahmad Zakiyuddin said a 250m-wide navigation channel would be built so that they could go to sea at any time without worrying about the tides.
Marine Department northern region director Mohd Hafiz Abdul Majid hoped more fisherfolk would be interested in taking the seafarer’s course.
Also present were Penang Infrastructure Corporation chief executive officer Datuk Seri Farizan Darus and SRS Consortium deputy project director Azmi Mohamad.