Respite finally came the way of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) on Thursday as the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi formally approved its plan to terminate relationship with stevedoring contractors handling a set of dockworkers known as tally clerks and onboard security.
The Minister’s approval of NPA’s plan came at a meeting he held with representatives of the organisation, Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), terminal operators, stevedoring companies and top Transport Ministry officials.
Amaechi, who ruled at the meeting that NPA had every right and reason to terminate relationship the stevedoring contractors said to be employing an unverified 5,000 dockworkers, however directed the port authority to pay the affected stevedores all outstanding money due to them in the next two weeks.
NPA announced last year that it would not renew the 10-year contracts it signed with the stevedoring companies when it expired on December 15, 2015.
NPA General Manager, Public Affairs, Captain Iheanacho Ebubeogu said NPA’s refusal to renew the stevedoring companies’ contract was in line with the current port reforms and laws governing activities at the ports.
“NPA does not have any security staff on ships any longer.
“It is no more the responsibility of NPA but terminal operators according to ISPS code to employ security details on board.
“You can go to a ship to and you will see a security man who will ask you questions on what you came for and what you want to do.
“They will ask you questions and give you a tag based on your mission. Paying for onboard security is against our own law at NPA. This is not a thing you do on sympathy because if you are held you go for it.
“For tally clerks, NIMASA regulates them. If the terminal operators that handle cargo want the services of those contractors, they will employ their services and tally clerk also. NPA does not employ tally clerks again,” Ebubeogu said.
Before the meeting convened by the Minister in Abuja on Thursday, the unspecified number of affected stevedoring companies had stepped up their lobby to arm-twist NPA into rescinding the December 15, 2015 termination of their contracts. The organisation’s leadership however refused to budge despite series of petitions against it.
NPA reportedly spent about one billion naira annually over a period of 10 years to pay for what a top Transport Ministry official termed “wasteful contracts” with the sacked stevedoring companies.
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