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.
18 terminal operators owe FG N490bn, says NPA
Eighteen terminal operators at various ports in the country are indebted to the Federal Government to the tune of $753 million and N1.61 billion (N490 billion), the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has said.
This was down from the $852.094 million and N1.878 billion presented in an audit query presented to the National House of Representatives by the Office of the Auditor General for the Federation.
The query showed the debts by the terminal operators were as of December 31, 2019.
The report of the Office of the Auditor General for the Federation was based on alleged non-compliance, internal control weaknesses issues in Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the federal government of Nigeria for the year ended 31st December, 2019.
The 18 terminal operators are operating at the Lagos port complex, Tin Can Island port, Delta port, Rivers port Complex, Onne Port Complex and Calabar Port Complex.
The query identified the Terminal Operators owing the said funds as APM Terminal, Apapa owing $562 million, Apapa Bulk Terminal $4,621.20, ENL Consortium $957,020.77, Greenview Development, $20.8m and Standard Flour Mills $893.77.
Others are Intels Nigeria Limited, operators of Terminal A at the Delta Ports Complex owing $2,429,382.80, Intels Nigeria Limited, operators of Terminal B of the Delta Ports Complex $4,589,576.75, and Associated Maritime Services $328,027.64, and Greenleigh Ports Nigeria Limited which is owing $1.7m
The rest are BUA Ports and Terminal Limited owing $12,254,424.55, Port and Terminal Operators Nigeria Limited, $107m, Brawal Shipping Nigeria Limited, $226,541.72, Intels Nigeria Limited operating at Onne Port Complex owes $430,404.81, Intels Nigeria Limited also at Onne Port is owing another $670,954.72, the same Intels Nigeria Limited owes another $1.9m also at Onne Port while Shoreline Logistics owed $1.2m.
In the documents submitted to the House Public Accounts Committee as part of its response to the investigation, the NPA management confirmed that the original debt owed the FG by the port operators stood at $852,093,730.77 and N1.9m.
It however disclosed that out of the initial amount owed by the operators, $753 million and N1.6 billion had not been paid.
The Managing Director of the Nigeria Port Authority (NPA) Mohammed Bello-Koko, had during his appearance before the Committee lamented the billions being owed to the FG by the operators and other industry players in the maritime sector.
He said despite its efforts, the NPA was unable to recover the debts and therefore sought the assistance of the Federal Ministry of Finance.
Chairman of the Committee, Wole Oke (PDP Osun), promised that the National Assembly would ensure the recovery of the funds.
Minister inaugurates Nigerian Shippers’ Council governing board
The Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Sambo, has inaugurated Nigerian Shippers’ Council Governing Board, urging members to shun corruption and work towards result-driven economy.
Sambo while inaugurating the board in Abuja on Thursday charged the team to maintain harmonious working relationship with the management of the council.
HE expressed confidence in the ability of the board members to deploy their expertise to promote prudence, transparency, accountability, equity and fairness in the discharge of their responsibilities.
Sambo reminded members not to forget that the council had been vested with “the responsibility of providing a forum for the protection of the interest of shippers on matters affecting the shipment of imports and exports to and from Nigeria.
On her part, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr Magdalene Ajani, said, “You have your roles to support the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, but you are not part of the day to day running of the council.
“At a later date, we will have a retreat where your roles will be clearly spelt out. We are planning to do it with all our boards so that we avoid conflicts. It has become important for me to stress this at every board inauguration for agencies of the Ministry of Transportation to avoid stress.”
Chairman of the newly constituted board, Lawal Sama’aila Abdullahi, promised that the board would deliver on its mandate.
Other members of the board are Rufai Akambi, Usen Udoh, Oluseyin Oduntan, Violet Williams, Mohammed Kam-Salem and Emmanuel Jime who doubles as the Executive Secretary of the NSC.
First ship at Lekki deep sea port excites Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed excitement over the successful berthing of the first ship at Lekki deep sea port.
The vessel, ZHEN HUA 28, delivered three ships to shores and 10 rubber tyre gantries cranes that will help in the evacuation of cargoes from vessels to the shore.
The President stated this in a statement issued by his spokesman, Femi Adesina, on Saturday in Abuja.
He also congratulated the Federal Ministry of Transportation and the Nigerian Ports Authority on the achievement.
He also commended all stakeholders in the maritime sector for the feat.
Buhari recalled that his approval of four new seaports in the country, including the Lekki Deep Sea port, was hinged on growing the economy.
According to him, the decision was also aimed at creating massive job opportunities, foreign investment inflows and trade facilitation.
He commended the staff and management in the nation’s maritime sector who were working round the clock to make the operationalisation of Lekki Deep Sea port before the end of the year a reality.
The President reassured them of his commitment to sustain investments in these new assets.
According to Buhari, the nation’s maritime and aquatic resources are critical to the livelihoods of Nigerians and Government will spare no effort in successfully harnessing the potential of the sector.
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