By Victor Ahiuma-Young
The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, MWUN, has raised the alarm over increasing security threats at the port formations and private jetties across the country, saying they have become very porous for vessels laden with dangerous cargoes such as illicit drugs, arms and ammunition, among others.
MWUN blamed the absence of Tally clerks and onboard security men on vessels berthing and operating in the Nigerian waters and ports for the influx of the dangerous cargoes, and urged the Federal Government to return the Tally clerks and the onboard security men, commonly known as ‘onboardship gangway securitymen, to check the influx of dangerous cargoes.
At a media parley, President-General, PG, of MWUN, Prince Adewale Adeyanju, also lamented that most of the International Oil Companies, IOCs, have refused to implement the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NlMASA, Act, 2007, a Government Marine Notice No. 106, 2014 stressing that the workers would be forced to renew their suspended strike notice.
Government Marine Notice 106 applies to all companies and persons engaged in Stevedoring work, including Dock Labour Employer and Private Operators of any work location including Ports, Jetties, Onshore or Offshore Oil and Gas or Bonded Terminals, Inland Container Depots, ICDS, off- Dock Terminal, Dry Ports and Platforms.
Adeyanju contended that apart from the government losing huge revenue due to the breaching of laws, the refusal of the IOCs to implement Marine Notice No. 106, has increased the atrocities and criminalities perpetrated at the ports and private jetties.He said: “If government wants to generate and earn more revenue, the government should return the Tally clerks and onboard security men. The vessels coming into the Nigerian ports and private jetties are not monitored. Anything can go out and come in. With onboard securitymen, we will be able to check what comes in or goes out through the vessels. Federal Government does not know what is happening in the ports. We do know more because we are on standby and receive information from our men on the field. The Tally clerks and onboard security men should be reinstated to check influx of illicit drugs, dangerous weapons, and other prohibited cargoes.”
The PG urged the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi and the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, to show more commitment and interest in the Maritime sector, claiming that the Transportation minister’s non-commitment to the sector is making the country lose huge revenue.
He urged the two ministers to work together and investigate the resistance of the IOCs to the implementation of Marine Notice 106.
The Union had last month threatened to shut the ports, but government’s intervention through the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, which called representatives of the IOCs, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, National Petroleum Investment Services, NAPIMS, National Association of Stevedoring Operators, NASO, and leaders of MWUN to a stakeholders’ meeting where far reaching decisions were taken, forced the Union to suspend the strike notice at the last minute.
Adeyanju expressed disgust that up till now, “the IOCs have bluntly refused the appointed and deployed stevedoring companies to commence operations and has thus deprived its members (dockworkers) in the employ of the stevedoring companies from working and earning a living.”He said up till now, out of 30 IOCs operating in the country, only three have complied, thus making Nigeria lose huge revenue in the oil and gas sector.
The PG added that the Union would renew the suspended strike notice if no urgent measure was taken to address the issue.