August 14, 2015
On May 28, 2018, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) appointed International Oil Companies, as stevedoring contractors to provide labour services at the nation’s seaports. It was another mile stone towards effective service delivery and another plus for the leadership of the NPA. The NPA under the watch of Hadiza Bala-Usman in the last four years despite the challenges has elevated the bar of sanity at the ports. The Stevedoring Contractors provide labour for loading and unloading activities at the ports, and they source this from registered dockworkers who are members of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN). Many dangerous cargoes that had been shipped into the country but detected during inspection by men of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) have their successes in some of the dockworkers who, while unloading cargoes, inform Customs officials of the contents of some of the inspected cargoes. Unfortunately, because the NPA failed to call to order the IOCs, the strike declared by MWUN on July 3,2019 depleted the fortunes of the maritime sector because the workers were owed over one year salary. With scores of containers estimated at about 12,000 trapped at various ports in the nation, it was estimated that over N100 Billion was lost to the three-day industrial action by the Union. This, huge loss was avoidable if the NPA leadership had exercised enough control over the IOCs. About 14 vessels with various commodities were trapped in the two nation’s seaports at Apapa and Tin-Can Island apart from perishable items, aside others delicate commodities that ought to exit the ports while industrial action lasted. President-General of MWUN, Comrade Abdul-Waheed Adeyanju, having given enough notice directed that members of the union should totally withdraw their services throughout the nation’s seaports, effective from 06.00 hours on Wednesday, July 3, 2019.Given the foregoing, it was unfortunate that the NPA, saddled with the responsibility of checkmating the IOCs slept over its responsibility as the land lord of the ports. At a time the nation is gasping for economic balance, the attitude of the IOCs was inimical to the growth of Nigeria given the losses incurred. Therefore time has come for the NPA to as a matter of urgency open the books of the IOCs to Nigerians to let us know the financial implication of the contract to warrant such indebtedness. The debt was inhuman and anti-worker. By not paying the workers as at when due, thus it is a direct indication that the IOCs are burden on the maritime sector, and is no longer competent to handle the contract. Therefore we demand the immediate cancellation of the Stevedoring contract with the IOCs and the job should be given to a competent firm that will deliver and see workers as major partners-in-progress. On the other hand, time has come for the NPA to wake up from its slumber and discharge its responsibility as expected.