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Maritime workers call for ports expansion

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By Usman Oladimeji

Lagos ports account for more than 90 percent of import and export cargoes.

Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) has called on the Federal Government to implement an imminent expansion of other ports in the country over intense pressure and work overload on the Lagos port facility and personnel overstretched. As per the report, Lagos ports account for more than 90 percent of import and Export cargo in Nigeria. The union also urges for the provision and procurement of port operational machinery and rail services that would help speed up and maximize the operational capacity function of the ports.

This was disclosed by the President-General of MWUN, Dr. Adeyanju Adewale, at the union’s National Executive Council (NEC) in Lagos. He called on necessary government agencies in charge of Dredging, wreckage packing and channeling of inland Waterways, among others, to demonstrate proactive commitments while executing their various duties, as well as Dredging Calabar, Escravos, Warri and Port Harcourt ports. Adewale emphasized the maritime sub-sector’s significant impact on Nigeria’s economy and political and international diplomatic plan.

Among the challenges facing ports are high charges among others.

Considering the tremendous advantage and potential of the maritime sector holds, Dr Adewale argued that no positive-oriented government would allow such a significant sector that contributes greatly to the national and Economic Development and Revenue of the nation to decline. He said the contribution of ports, jetties, terminals, and oil and gas platforms could not be overemphasized. Dr. Adewale noted that allowing such occurrences will induce adverse factors such as massive Unemployment and job losses, reduced Revenue, a decline in port operations and services, leading to berth vacancy, empty sheds and stacking areas, among others

Despite concessions of ports that induced operational progress and improvement, the union president laments that there are still major challenges affecting the performance of the ports. Among the challenges he highlighted are high port charges, delays in cargo clearance, multiple Taxation and development of intermodal transport, and low job creation. According to him, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) could only account for about 4,000 employees compared to 13,000 workers before the port concession.

MWUN reinstated the state of emergency in the industry.

Furthermore, he noted that the low employment figure indicates a gradual extinction of junior workers in NPA. Dr. Adewale stressed that this is a matter of urgency that needs to be looked into as he called on the authorities to employ more adequate personnel to spread across all operational areas in the port. He noted that the employment structure in most government maritime parastatals has, over the last decade, assumed an inverted pyramid employment structure, where there are more senior staff than junior, thus, affecting their capacity to effectively monitor port operations in jetties and terminals.

The union President-General said employees in the shipping sector are subjected to inhuman conditions that impoverish and degrade them due to the absence of the National Joint Industrial Council (NJIC) agreement in the sector. MWUN reinstated the State of Emergency in the industry, calling on the Shipping Association of Nigeria (SAN) and other stakeholders to prevent the Shipping Industry from imminent industrial action. Moreover, the union called the attention of the government to get International Oil Companies (IOCs) to compel with the nation’s labour laws and standards, many of which were alleged to have continuously defied the nation’s stevedoring regulations.

The administration has received approval to employ more workers.

On the other hand, the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Bashir Jamoh, who commended Adewale for his selfless service, expressed gratitude to the union for establishing a peaceful and enabling environment free of Strike Action. Speaking on the alleged IOCs matter, Dr. Jamoh said the agency would work with key stakeholders to resolve the matter amicably. Meanwhile, Managing Director of NPA, Mohammed Bello-Koko, represented by General Manager of Human Resources, Ahmad Umar, stated that the administration had received approval to employ more employees in order to lessen the shortage of workers.

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