By Godfrey BIVBERE & Vivian NWWAOGU
The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), has accused the management of Five Star Logistic Terminal, FSLT, operators of berth 9 and 10 at Tin-can Island Port, for not putting in place adequate safety measures which allegedly resulted in the death of a dockworker recently.
Speaking on the safety measures at the terminal, President of the dockworkers branch of MWUN, Adewale Adeyanju, told SWEETCRUDE that the dockworker, Ahmed Usman, would have been rescued if the terminal operator had the necessary safety equipment.
Adeyanju said he has heard several complaints about the terminal in the past, and described it as one of the worst operating in the nation’s ports since the concessions.
He also argued that if there had been life guards on ground, the late Usman would have been saved, and promised to investigate the matter further.
On compensation for the dockworker who drowned while trying to drive out a wheel-loading from a ship weeks back, the labour leader said they are still negotiating with the terminal operator on the issue.
Adeyanju explained that a meeting between both parties is scheduled for next week for further discussions on appropriate compensations for the family of the deceased.
Recall that Usman recently drowned at berth 10, operated by Five Star for the Tin-can Island Port while trying to drive out an old Wheel-loader imported into the country onboard M.V Brilliant Ace.
SWEETCRUDE gathered that Usman, who was drafted to the motion vessel because there was not enough cargo on the vessel he was billed to work on, went into the ship to drive out the wheel-loader only to discover that it’s engine was faulty.
An eye-witness who was also working on the ship said that Usman noticed that the breaks of the machine was not working, and tried to maneuver it when the engines ran flat as the wheel-loader was descending the sloop from the ship.
The eye witness noted that as he struggled for control, the machine turned and hit the deck and rolled over the quay and plunged it into the sea.
The source however explained that the deceased did not drown immediately, but was able to swim out with a broken left hand and a deep cut on his forehead, which he sustained during the fall.
According to the source, who spoke in Pidgin English, the deceased continued to cry for help, but none was forthcoming because there were no divers in the terminal, adding that he continued to cry for help until he eventually drowned.
“He dey cry, dey beg make person come help am, nobody go. The people wen get terminal Cuma no get person swim (divers) like other person when get terminal. He cry sote he come go down kpatakpata.”
Usman, who was in his late 20s, is said to have left behind two wives and four children who are left to face the reality of losing their bread winner, while the Union and the management of FSLT continue to negotiate for possible compensations almost one month after.
Efforts to speak with the District Chairman of RORO/Jetties of the dockworkers branch of MWUN, Abubakar Bello, proved abortive, as he could not be reached on his two phone lines.
Efforts to speak with the Managing Director, of Illutex Ltd. the Stevedores of the terminal, Auwalu Ilu, was not successive, as he did not pick up his calls, neither did he respond to a text message sent to him on the issue.
Similarly, the Chief Security Officer (CSO) of FSLT, who is simply identified as Mr. Gabriel, could also not be reached on his phone, as his two lines were switched off. When SWEETCRUDE visited the RORO Police Station located at the Tin-can Island Port, the IPO, Ogunseye, was said to have stepped out.