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Dockworkers president wants rickety vessels banned

Posted by By FRANCIS AWOWOLE-BROWNE, Abuja on 2008/03/18 | Views: 534 |

Dockworkers president wants rickety vessels banned

Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) has called on the Federal Government to expedite actions on the payment of severance benefits of the disengaged dockworkers so as to bring sanity back into the ports.

Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) has called on the Federal Government to expedite actions on the payment of severance benefits of the disengaged dockworkers so as to bring sanity back into the ports.

As part of the sanity measure, President of Dockworkers branch of the union, Mr. Anthony Nted, who made the call also asked government to place age restrictions on vessels berthing at various ports in Nigeria, as the nation’s territorial water is now infested with ship that are not sea worthy.

The union leader, who spoke against the background of violence that rocked the Apapa Port following the death on duty of three dockworkers who were killed when a crane attached to the ship collapsed, expressed disappointment at the bureaucratic bottleneck that has bedeviled the payment of the severance benefit.

According to him, the delay in the final settlement of the disengaged workers has made it impossible to differentiate between genuine dockworkers and criminals, who go about within the ports to steal and cause crisis.
He regretted the death of the dockworkers and the attendant violence during which property worth N100 million belonging to ENL Consortium were destroyed and blamed government for failing to do the right thing at the right time to ensure that peace prevail in the ports.

Mr. Nted argued that Nigeria seaports have been turned to junkyard where every ship that have been declared not sea worthy to berth at ports in other developed countries, come to berth and discharge.
He pointed out that dockworkers died as a result of the rickety nature of the ship they were offloading from, saying the crane would not have collapsed if the ship had been a very sound and strong one.
“Our seaports are stinking, no inspection of any sort. Outdated rickety vessels are common features at our ports. There should be adequate inspection on the sea worthiness of the vessels berthing at the ports, just as was done in the case of tokunbo vehicles.

“Government appears to have abdicated its responsibility as far as safety and welfare of the workers in the ports are concerned, so many agencies like NIMASA, NPA, Shippers Council, Shipping owners make all forms of collections within the ports while the workers, who make the collection possible, are treated like slaves that have nothing to live on.

“Despite the efforts of the union to stamp out slavery through payment of living wage for the dockworkers, our efforts are being sabotaged. It is pretty unfair for the authorities to disengage workers for over two years and refuse to pay them their severance benefits.
“We have found it difficult to know who the real registered dockworkers are. Government must do something about this. It is no longer acceptable,” he stated.

The dockworkers president fumed that many of the disengaged workers have died while waiting for payment of their money which is their entitlement, negotiated on their behalf by the union.”
The union leader then called on government to sanitise the ports for more effective service delivery. This sanitization, he posited should be through adequate monitoring and inspection so as to reduce touting.
He also expressed sympathy over the destruction of property of ENL Consortium which was triggered by the death of the dockworkers, promising that the union will investigate it and take measures to guide against future occurrence.

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