It was not all a rousing welcome for the new Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mrs. Hadiza Bala-Usman, as placard-carrying dockworkers from ENL Terminal, Apapa, began their protest at the agency’s head office in Lagos just as she was formerly taking over leadership.
The protesters blocked the building’s entrance, insisting that the NPAintervened in their disagreement with the terminal operator over salaries, pensions and casualisation, which they said had lasted for the past 10 years.
Similarly, the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) has alleged that the activities of some shipping companies, consignees and agents were anti-workers and dangerous to the economy.
In a July 11, 2006 petition to the Minister of Transport,Chibuike Amaechi, signed by the MWUN President-General, Mr. Tony Nted, the workersalleged that the affected shipping companies berth without submitting their manifests to the stevedoring contractors for billing, nor allow all statutory bodies to inspect the vessels.
Worst still, it alleged that these illegal activities were being perpetrated in connivance with some NPA top officials, and warned that a nationwide industrial action was imminent should the anomalies continue unresolved.
Listed among the latest evaders were M.V. Eide and M.V. Hawk Vessels, which MWUN said berthed on July 5, 2016 at Chevron EGPL jetty, adding that M.V Eide carried jack-ups, barges and containers,and moved to mid-stream to discharge the following day.
Calling for a thorough investigation of these activities, the union said it was convinced that somebody in the NPAwas aiding these consignees/agents and should not be allowed to continue.
Meanwhile, Bala-Usman has described the ports as critical to the health ofthe nation’s economy. Therefore, “we will facilitate port efficiency to enhance improved revenue generation and in-flow into the national treasury,” she assured.
“We will listen to our customers, importers, exporters and other agencies working in the ports to improve on our service delivery to the nation. Anything less than world class service is simply not acceptable.
“We shall prioritise investment in infrastructure, importation and services committed to by the NPA in the concession agreement to hasten import and export at the ports.”
To achieve results, she tasked members of staff to uphold the most diligent work ethics in their individual beats as well as collective undertakings.
“Everyone at the NPA has a role to promote best practices in upholding good governance, standards and deliveryof quality services,” she insisted.“As the new management settles in, we would be listening to your concerns and suggestions.”
In his hand-over speech, Mr. Habib Abdullahi told his successor that the agency has highly trained professionals, and that the recent automation of its payment systems is integrated with other government agencies, especially the Nigeria Customs Service, to check revenue leakage.