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Maritime workers set to cripple activities over new port bill

By Godwin Oritse

LAGOS— Citing dangers inherent in the Ports and Harbours Bill  recently passed by the Senate, maritime workers have threatened a nationwide protest tomorrow.

Vanguard gathered in Lagos that the protest is being planned to take place simultaneously in all the nation’s seaports.

The action is being jointly organised by Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, MWUN, and Senior Staff Association of Communications, Transport and Corporation, SSACTAC, Maritime Branch.

Already, the Ports and Harbours Authority Bill, 2015, which seeks to repeal the Nigerian Ports Authority Act 1955, as amended, has been passed by the Senate and is awaiting concurrent passage by the House of Representatives.

The bill was sponsored by a member of the House of Representatives,Ossai Nicholas Ossai.

The MWUN had earlier petitioned Speaker of the House of Representatives over the passage of the bill, saying it will spell doom for the sector and lead to massive job losses for NPA workers. They also pointed out several economic and security implications of the bill if passed.

A visit to the National Secretariat of the MWUN in Apapa, Lagos, on Friday, our correspondent  confirmed the imminent protest. Vanguard sighted loads of banners, fliers and leaflets already printed and awaiting transportation to port formations outside Lagos.

When contacted, Acting Secretary-General of the union, Felix Akingboye, confirmed the imminent protests, even as he refused to give details.

All he told our correspondent was: “We are mobilising our members in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Onne, Warri and Calabar for the demonstration. It will hold simultaneously in all the ports from 6 am to 6 pm on Tuesday.

“We are opposed to any attempt to further strip Nigerians of their patrimony through further concession in the guise of amending the NPA Act 1955.”

“the promoters of the Bill are only after their personal interests and this is to concession the harbour operations of NPA to private individuals, whereas, all over the world, harbour operation is an exclusive duty of government because of the security implications and huge revenue generation”.

He added that if passed into law, “the proposed Bill has great security and revenue risks for the Federal Government and it would lead to mass sack of NPA workers”

“We have carefully perused the bill and the existing    Nigerian Ports Authority Act of 1955 as amended and we cannot see any deficiency in the present NPA Act that warranted the bill except for the latent intention of its promoters to corner for themselves harbour operations which is a major revenue earner for the NPA and by extension the federal government without taking into consideration the security implications to the country and of course the havoc it would cause on the workforce as it was previously done during the concessioning exercise “


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