The President-General, Maritime Workers Union o f Nigeria (MWUN) Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, has applauded the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) over the recent Marine Notice it issued that duly registered stevedoring companies should get back to work at the various port jetties and terminals.
NIIMASA had on Monday directed stevedoring companies that are yet to start operation, to mobilise to their work locations.
The agency equally notified all operators of ports, jetties, onshore or offshore oil and gas or bonded terminals, Inland Container Depots (ICDs), offshore dock terminals, dry ports and platforms, and other work locations to grant duly appointed stevedoring companies access to their premises for commencement of operations.
Adeyanju who spoke with SHIPS & PORTS, urged NIMASA to collaborate with the union by setting up a taskforce to ensure effective implementation of the directive.
He said, “These are the things that have been long expected. This will create employment for dockworkers and other Nigerians that are looking for the opportunity to be a dockworker because if the jetties are booming, other people too will like to come work as professionals.
“We appreciate the Director General of NIMASA for coming out with the Marine Notice because over the years if NPA appoints stevedoring contractors, the jetty owners will not allow them to come in and if they don’t come in, there is no way the workers will come in too.
“It will complement the effort of NPA who appoints the stevedoring contractors. So this new development is laudable. The former DG was not even concerned about issues like this but the new DG came in and he is trying to put in place all the laws that is backing the activities of the stevedoring contractors and dockworkers to work all over the jetties and even the bonded terminals because there is an Act that establish that.
“But bringing out Marine Notice is one thing, effective implementation is another thing. NIMASA needs to work hand in hand with us because we know some of those jetties that are not allowing the registered stevedoring contractors employed by NPA to go into their terminals.
“We appeal to NIMASA to set up a task force that will go round the whole jetties that have not been using the appointed stevedoring contractors to work in their jetties.
“They (jetty owners) pick anybody on the road to work for them at the jetties and they only pay them stipends but the dockworkers today have pension and all their take home have been reviewed since 2006 up till date but those jetty owners like to employ cheap labour but with this new development, that will be a thing of the past.”
Adeyanju, however, appealed to NIMASA to expedite action in the registration and issuance of new biometric identity card to dockworkers. This, he said, will ensure that only authorised dockworker gain access to the port terminals and private jetties.
“We have been crying for this for years but from the feelers I am hearing, I learnt that they are trying to ensure that all the dockworkers are given identity cards but I don’t know the day they will commence that. If you don’t have identity cards, how do you identify the genuine dockworkers? If you are not employed by any stevedoring contractors through the terminal operators or NPA, you cannot claim to be a dockworker but the way it is now it is the old identity card that everybody is still parading. So NIMASA needs to come out to retrieve the old one by setting up a tripartite committee, involving the terminal operator, the stevedoring contractors and the union to look into that.
“We are appealing to NIMASA to do that on time to avoid pocket of crisis brewing among the genuine dock workers,” he said.