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Maritime workers begin strike Monday over sacked colleagues

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Maritime workers have embarked on an indefinite strike over the sacking of 500 employees of Integrated Logistics Services Nigeria Ltd and Associated Maritime Services Ltd.

The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, which declared the industrial action, directed its members to shut down the eastern ports from Monday until the withdrawal of disengagement letters given to the affected workers by the two firms.

This was contained in a statement on Sunday, signed by the Secretary-General of MWUN, Mr Felix Akingboye, titled, ‘Maritime workers declare industrial unrest in the Eastern Ports over the sacking of members by INTELS Nigeria Ltd and Associated Maritime Services Ltd’.

The union said it was engaged in a negotiation with the firms on improved workers welfare when they summarily sacked the 500 workers on December 4, 2020.

It alleged that the companies contracted security personnel who allegedly assaulted the workers.

The statement said, “In the course of the negotiations that started about a week earlier, the union requested for a break to enable the union hold its National Executive Council meeting on Friday, 4 December 2020.

“To our greatest shock, while the union was holding its NEC, the two companies issued redundancy letters to over 500 of our members.

“We wrote to the two managements to withdraw the redundancy letters for us to resume negotiations in a peaceful and harmonious environment.

“They did not only refuse, but followed up the redundancy letters by locking out our members on Monday, December 7, 2020.”

“To further worsen the situation, they unleashed armed security operatives, including soldiers and policemen on the union members and inflicted various degrees of injuries on our members. Some of them are at present in hospitals receiving treatment,” MWUN stated.

It condemned the use of security operatives to deal with industrial relations issue where unarmed workers were allegedly brutalised and harassed.

“Consequently, the union has directed its members in the Eastern ports to down tools from Monday, December 14, 2020, and begin an indefinite industrial action pending when the management of INTELS and AMS withdraw the redundancy letters to our members and guarantee resumption of negotiations,” Akingboye said.

Maritime

43,000 passengers use Lagos waterways daily, says Sanwo-Olu

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  • Inaugurates data centre, rescue unit

Over 43,000 people are now using the waterways to commute in Lagos State, the state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu,has said.

He attributed the rise in waterways passengers in the state to the state investment in water transportation.

Sanwo-Olu stated this on Friday at the inauguration of the state’s Waterways Monitoring and Data Management Centre (WMDMC) at the Five Cowrie Terminal – headquarters of the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) – in Falomo, Ikoyi, Lagos.

The Data Management Centre, which is a centralised monitoring base for all activities on the Lagos waterways, is expected to enhance security and improve inland waterways transportation network in the state.

Traffic gridlock is a common phenomenon in Lagos and according to the governor, traffic management/ transportation remains core of his administration’s economic development plan.

He added that in the last three years, waterways transport had been given special attention as part of the efforts to create multimodal transportation system in the state.

Sanwo-Olu said, “We have invested so much in LASWA that today, we are beginning to see the effects. Over the past three years, daily commuter ridership has increased to 43,000 passengers and over 1.4 million passengers yearly. There has also been a visible reduction in boat mishaps achieved through our massive intervention in safety equipment and donations of free lifejackets across the 15 local government areas accessible by water.”

The governor also inaugurated LASWA Search and Rescue Unit (SAR), which will be responsible for patrolling and enforcing the State’s waterways rules and regulation, stressing that activation of the monitoring gadgets and infrastructure will consolidate the government efforts in making the state waterways safer for its users.

“In the last three and half years, our administration has invested massively in waterways infrastructure and assets to deliberately encourage and promote water transportation in Lagos. Our gathering today is to further deepen our commitment to have a safe and secure ferry operation on our waterways. We are commissioning a big command and control centre specifically established to monitor and protect our waterways,” he said.

“We are inaugurating the newly created Search and Rescue Unit that will be patrolling and enforcing our waterways rules and regulation. We are handing over two additional patrol boats and safety enhancements. We are also launching advanced D.J.I. Aerial Drone, BlueEye Pro drone for underwater searches, and U-SAFE rescuing gadgets.

“These gadgets are acquired and installed to consolidate our efforts in making our waterways safer for its users and making monitoring activities seamless. It also demonstrates our unparalleled commitment to providing a viable alternative transport solution that will complement other modes. This is the investment we will continue to make, in addition to building additional jetties. In the coming weeks, we will be commissioning eight newly built jetties out of the 15 we are currently building.”

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Business

Contractor hands over completed $1.5bn Lekki port, Lagos okays six-lane access road

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The construction of $1.5bn Lekki deep seaport has been completed and the facility handed over by the contractor, China Harbours, to the promoters.

Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, at the handover ceremony on Monday promised to expand the roads leading to the port to six lanes to ensure a seamless evacuation of cargoes from the port.

Sanwo-Olu also said that the port would make Nigeria a hub in the entire sub-region.

Sanwo-Olu said, ”We will stop at nothing to complete the roads leading to the port, all the shanties along the road will be cleared to give way for the expansion of the roads.

“With the port completed and a projected 1.2 million TEUs, Lagos has become a maritime hub.”

Chairman of the Board of port, Mr Abiodun Dabiri, said that the Lekki port would deliver on its promise to make Nigeria a hub in the sub-region.

Dabiri also said that the board was pleased  to celebrate the completion of construction of the port and the effective handover of the facilities by the contractor, China Harbour Engineering LFTZ Enterprise (CHELE), a subsidiary of China Harbour Engineering Company.

He said, “It has been a long journey of many steps. Starting from the time when Tolaram led by Pa Mohan Aswani sought to develop a deep seaport for the benefit of the Lagos Free Zone, and indeed all of Lagos State and Nigeria, to getting a concession from the Nigerian Ports Authority for a unique private public partnership port; getting a loan facility from China Development Bank to the infusion of equity capital in the sum of $221m by China Harbour Engineering Company to the start of construction in the midst of an unprecedented global pandemic. It has indeed been a journey.”

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Maritime

Nigeria Customs still adopting physical examination as cargo scanners idle away – Report

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Officials of the Nigeria Customs Service are still glued wholly to physical examination of cargos at the seaports, despite the acquisition and deployment of scanners to the Apapa, Tin-Can Island, Lagos and Onne seaports Port Harcourt by the Federal Government.

The scanners are meant to speed up cargo inspection and quicken evacuation of imported cargoes from the seaports but the equipment has remained non-functional at the various entry points into the country.

Maritime experts say such physical examination by the NCS and other government agencies involved has increased the cargo dwell time by over 100 per cent.

For instance, while about 50 containers are physically examined at the Apapa port daily and 60 examined daily at Tin-can Island port presently, about 150 containers could be examined with the use of one scanner at Apapa and the number could double should both scanners be operational.

Leadership reports that the expectations that the deployment of scanners would bring a positive shift in cargo clearance, eliminate delays and enhance timely delivery of cargo to owners by clearing agents had been dashed.

It says with 100 per cent physical examination, importers incur huge demurrage charges from shipping companies and storage charges from terminal operators.

The Chairman of the Nigerian Port Consultative Forum (NPCF), Kunle Folarin, was quoted as saying the burden of the demurrage incurred by importers or consignees due to the lack of scanners at the ports would be passed to the consumer, which would create another level of inflation in the economy.

He said while Customs had settled for 100 per cent physical examination and inspection of cargoes, they would sabotage all efforts at ensuring scanners arrive and are installed at the ports due to the huge money they get illegally.

President of the Shippers Association of Lagos (SALS), Rev. Jonathan Nicol, said Nigeria was losing over N800 billion monthly due to lack of 24-hour seaport operation and about N9.6 trillion lost in a year.

According to Nicol, the port is a money-spinning machine, as payments are daily made to shipping companies, terminal operators, customs, transporters, Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) in the ports.

-Report largely from Leadership

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