The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) have lamented the preponderance of foreign owned vessels, most of which do not meet with the requirement of the Cabotage Law operating on the nation’s territorial waters with Nigerian ship owners having less business to do.
Speaking during the union’s National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held in Lagos weekend, the President-General of MWUN, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, called on the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to ensure full compliance and enforcement of the provisions of the Cabotage Law to create jobs for the nation’s teeming seafarers.
Adeyanju who was recently elected Chairman, Africa Seafarers section, African Regional Unit, International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), noted that Nigerian seafarers are well trained and should not be denied the opportunity to serve.
He said, “The era where Filipinos and other nationalities took over the job of our indigenous nationals should be eradicated. The union is also aware of the illegal ship to ship (STS) operation that is ongoing in West and Central Africa waters offshore which constitutes a huge source of revenue leakage to our economy. That is why we are crying to the whole world now that the laws of the land must be respected.”
Adeyanju appealed to the Federal Government to resuscitate the Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL) and commence payment of monthly pension to the seafarers who were retired as a result of the liquidation of the defunct NNSL.
The MWUN President-General equally expressed displeasure over the deplorable state of the port access road warning that if the situation continues, the union may galvanize another industrial action, which will paralyse activities in all the ports.
He noted that despite the Federal Government promise that the road would be fixed before the end of second quarter, only the Ijora /Apapa Wharf has been partially fixed while the Tin Can Island end remained unattended to.
He said, “This is not acceptable to the union but we still respect the communiqué we sign with the Federal Government. The NEC today (Friday) will give the go ahead on the next line of action so I don’t want to pre-empt the decision of the NEC on the ultimatum we issued out last time.”
Executive Director, Maritime Labour Services, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Abubakar Jibril, while noting the concerns of the union leader said the agency has put in place measures to see to the implementation of the Cabotage Act.
Part of the measures according to him, was the introduction of an electronic register of all maritime labour such that where ever there is any identified job for seafaring, it is carried out by Nigerians.
“In line with the Presidential Executive Order no.4, we have come out in full force to ensure in terms of our enforcement that only Nigerians are engaged on board. Even before the release of the Presidential Order, we have come out with the marine notice that we will have zero tolerance for any waiver at all. We also detain vessels whom we have identified as carrying foreigners on board.
“We have also acquired fast intervention vessels recently which are going to help us pursue these ships all around our waters to make sure that proper inspection and placement of labour is done in the industry,” he said.
Principal Manager, Employee and Labour Relation of the Nigerian Port Authority, Koni Wonosikou, commended the leadership of the union for displaying sense of maturity which he said has created sustained peace in the industry.
He said the NPA management places high premium on its relationship with the union and assured of its readiness to address the issue of workers welfare in the organization.