….Lack of maritime policy affecting port concession reforms- MWUN
The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) said it has obtained the Federal government’s approval to employ more staff to boost its workforce.
Managing Director of NPA, Muhammed Bello-Koko disclosed this while responding to concerns by the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) over the gradual decline of junior workers of NPA at its National Executive Council meeting held in Lagos on Monday.
President General of MWUN, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, had lamented that after the ports were concessioned in 2006, NPA can only account for about 4, 000 employees as against 13,000 workers employed before the port concession.
Speaking, Bello-Koko, who was represented by the General Manager, Human Resources, Ahmad Umar said NPA is also concerned about the dwindling numbers of its workforce, especially junior staff in the agency.
He said NPA currently has an inverted pyramid structure with more senior officers than the junior staff noting that the employment would focus on increasing the number of junior staff.
“The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) is concerned about the dwindling numbers in terms of staffing. As a result of that, the Managing Director being interested in this particular issue has obtained an approval to employ more staff than officers.
“This is to increase the numbers; this is to strengthen the union and address most of the issues you have raised here. So, be rest assured that NPA is addressing the issue.
“The NPA as it is today, has an inverted pyramid structure, there are a lot of officers more than the staff. The issue is going to be addressed and your numbers are going to be increased,” he said.
The NPA boss commended MWUN under Comrade Adeyanju for the sustained industrial peace and harmony witnessed in the port just as he assured of the agency’s continued support and welfare to the union.
On his part, Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh, said based on the request by MWUN, the agency is working on building a befitting Maritime Seafarers Centre for the union in Lagos.
According to Jamoh, NIMASA had made efforts to acquire a property at Mobil Pegasus in Apapa which it intends to convert to a seafarers’ centre, but the plan did not work out as envisaged.
He, however, assured that NIMASA would deliver on the project soon.
Dr Jamoh also assured the union that the payment of pension to aged seafarers would soon be resolved with the support of the Minister of Transportation, Engr. Muazu Sambo.
Speaking earlier, President General of MWUN, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, lamented that in spite of the progress and improvements in port operations due to its concessioning, high port charges, delay in cargo clearance, as well as multiple taxation and low job creation are some of the challenges still affecting performance of the ports.
He noted that the lack of a clear-cut maritime policy is a major factor affecting the concessionining programme as the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) seems to lack the statutory basis to checkmate the private terminal operators.
Adeyanju, called on the NPA management to as a matter of national importance employ more junior workers to fill vacant positions and effectively man port operations in jetties and terminals.
He said, “This is a major concern to us as a workers’ union especially noting that the employment structure in most of our 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, thus affecting their capacity to effectively man port operations in jetties and terminals.
“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.
“From the foregoing, there is 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 the government.”
“As workers in the transport sector, we yearn for seamless movement of people and goods from one point to another to boost our economy and stimulate social integration. Unfortunately, this desire is hampered clearly by our nation’s lack of a clear transport policy. It is obviously now necessary that Nigeria develops a sustainable national integrated transport policy to serve as a catalyst to the overall development of the country.”
The MWUN boss equally expressed displeasure over the slave work conditions employees of shipping companies in Nigeria are subjected to as there is no National Joint Industrial Council (NJIC) agreement in place and therefore no standards applicable.
“We must therefore begin to consider and institute a working NJIC for the shipping sector. It has therefore become important that we take action to get respect and dignity for our members in the shipping sector with the view to alleviate their pain and suffering.
“This is why it is important to stress that agreements, collective bargaining, Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) are necessary tools which should be held holy and complied to always when they are reached.
“Consequently, we reinstate the state of emergency declared in the Nigeria Shipping Industry by the Union and call on the Shipping Association of Nigeria (SAN) and other well-meaning maritime practitioners to take heed now to save our shipping industry from imminent industrial action” he said.
Adeyanju commended President Muhammadu Buhari for granting approval for the disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) just as he urged NIMASA to put the fund into good use by procuring more vessels to provide employment for the teeming National Seafarers Development (NSDP) cadets trainees.