*Fingers lack of clear -cut Maritime policy
as major factor.
By Jerry Aguigbo
The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) has accused the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) of orchestrating a gradual extinction of its Junior Workers.
Rising from the Union’s National Executive Council Meeting (NEC),in Lagos today, which had as it’s theme: Taking Stock, Charting the Future, President General MWUN, Comrade (Prince) Adewale Adeyanju said that despite the amount of progress and improvement in port operations due to its concessionning, there are still some issues affecting the performance of the ports such as high port charges, delay in cargo clearance, multiple taxation and development of intermodal transport and worst of all, low job creation. The Nigerian Ports Authority he says, “can account for about 4000 or more employees as against the 13,000 workers employed before the concessionning, which is leading to a gradual extinction of NPA Junior workers.”
MWUN therefore called on the NPA to as a matter of national importance employ more Junior workers for balance and adequate personnel spread to all operational areas in the port.
According to Comrade Adeyanju, “this is a major concern to us as a Workers’ Union, especially noting that the employment structure in most of government Maritime sector parastatals have over the last decade assumed an inverted pyramid employment structure where we have more of Senior staff than Junior staff, this is affecting their capacity to effectively man port operations in jetties, terminals etc.”
Adeyanju therefore called on the Management of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to look inwards to put measures in place to ameliorate the plights of workers and freight forwarders who bear the brunt of incessant and arbitrary charges and increments by concessionaires.
Furthermore, he noted that the lack of clear- cut Maritime policy is a major militating factor affecting the concessioning programme as the Nigerian Ports Authority ( NPA) seems to lack the statutory power to checkmate the private terminal operators. ” We enjoin the necessary authority to correct this anomaly, as port operators without a regulatory body pose enormous danger to port users and non development of our exporting ability, Adeyanju said.
Speaking further, the MWUN PG said that from the foregoing, ” there’s indeed the need to implement the Cabotage Act (2003) with regards to monitoring, regulating and standardizing the operations of the concessioned ports in view of what seems to be the declining operational influence of government,” Adeyanju lamented.
However, the PG MWUN commended the MD NPA Alh. Mohammed Bello – Koko for his friendly gestures, ” we acknowledge and appreciate the enormous support of the Nigerian Ports Authority Managing Director- Mohammed Bello – Koko for his friendly posture… but we want him to do more in the area of employment of Junior staff.”
He urged the NPA to buckle up on the welfare of workers, as this is very Paramount to the Union.
Responding, the Managing Director, NPA through his representative, Alh. Ahamad Umar acknowledged the issues raised by the MWUN but noted that some of these issues as raised are already being addressed by the NPA. On the issue of dearth of Junior staff, he said the MD NPA has got an approval to employ more staff than officers at the NPA, with this development according to him, the issue is going to be resolved soon. Umar commended the Union for the lasting peace enjoyed in the Maritime industry.