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2006 port reforms reduce seaport theft to 15%

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By Abiodun Okunloye

Dockworkers' contribution to the actualisation of port reform was celebrated.

According to Dr. Samuel Babatunde, the Registrar of the Port and Terminal Management Academy of Nigeria, the port reforms that were implemented in 2006 assisted in reducing the amount of theft that occurred in Nigerian seaports to 15 percent, which is a significant decrease from the 55 percent that was documented before the reforms. In his keynote address at the commemoration of Dockworkers Day, which was held with the theme “Dockworkers, the Unsung Heroes of Port Reforms” and was coordinated by the Shipping Correspondent Association of Nigeria (SCAN), Babatunde stated that there are four criteria that call for the implementation of port reforms.

Without the slightest hint of a doubt, the ports have profited from the experience and capability of the private sector to put things right. Dockworkers have, in the same vein, strategically contributed to the actualisation of the aims of port reform in various ways. The amount of theft that occurs in the seaports has significantly decreased. The level of port effectiveness, efficacy, as well as responsiveness has significantly increased, going from the prior figure of 25 percent to the current value of 85 percent.

Port has experienced many changes since the reform.

As a result of the reforms that were implemented at the port, the amount of time that cargoes spend staying there has decreased from more than three weeks to less than one week. The percentage of accidents involving port personnel has dropped to less than 13 percent from a high of 55 percent before the reforms. According to Babatunde, the degree of welfare packages provided to port dockworkers in terms of pay, allowances, and other privileges has risen and improved from lower to higher, making it a reasonable career choice.

In addition, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, the President-General of the MWUN, also congratulated SCAN on the successful organisation of the programme to honour dockworkers. In 2006, the ports were divided among 25 terminal operators, and their lease agreements ranged from 10 to 25 years. The agreements have not been extended up until this point due to rivalry between different agencies, and those responsible for this are the unsung heroes who labour on the docks. He explained that it is commonly believed that when two elephants fight, it is detrimental to the surrounding vegetation.

Workers’ remuneration at the ports has gone up by 2,000 percent.

Also speaking at the event, Vicky Haastrup, who is the Chairman of the Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), said that the remuneration received by the dockworkers at the ports has gone up by a factor of 2,000 ever since the Federal Government first implemented the port reform. Haastrup went on to say that dockworkers were paid poorly prior to the port concession since there were no conditions of service in place at that time.

She added that the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that had been reached between the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) and the port operators had assured that there was industrial peace. According to the Chairman of STOAN, the average amount of money that a dockworker is able to take home each week has increased. Haastrup, who is also ENL Consortium Executive Vice Chairman, expressed gratitude to the Federal Government for the port modifications in 2006, which were awarded to ENL Consortium.

Maritime workers play a significant role in the sector.

On the other hand, Eugene Agha, who is the President of SCAN, earlier in his welcome address at the Dockworkers Day event, underlined the workers’ significance and contribution, adding that the importance of dockworkers in the marine sector cannot be overstated as they play a major role. He maintains that they are essential to Nigeria in order for the country to make the most of the potential available in the global seaborne trade that totals N33trn per year.

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