The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has announced that the Authority will be relieved of the responsibility of engaging the services of Tally clerks and On-board Security men and making any payments to them at the expiration of their current contract tenure which is due to expire on 15th December 2015.
This was contained in a statement made public by the General Manager Public Affairs Capt. Iheanacho Ebubeogu which stated that the Managing Director of NPA Mallam Habib Abdullahi has said that the position of the Authority is that it would not re-engage the dock labour contractors and it would therefore be expected that the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) would take over the responsibility of dealing with dock labour matters in line with its statutory mandate.
In explaining its position, Abdullahi who was represented by the Executive Director , Marine and Operations, Engr. David Omonibeke at a stakeholders meeting on the services of Tally clerks and On-board Security men, emphasized that its responsibility on payment to dockworkers and tally clerk ceased with the commencement of the present concession regime in 2006 when it was relieved of the following functions, which were taken over by the private sector; Cargo handling operations; Dock labour management; Development and maintenance of terminal super structure; Acquisition and maintenance of operational equipment and Maintenance of safety and security within the terminals amongst others.
“Consequently, in pursuant of the above, the terminal operators engaged stevedoring contractors who employed NIMASA certified dockworkers needed for cargo handling in operational areas other than the jetties that belong to and are being operated by the Authority. Furthermore , according to the enforcement and ratification Act of 2004, the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code is chapter X1-2 of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS).SOLAS was domesticated in Nigeria by the Enforcement and Ratification Act of 2004 . Since ISPS Code is part of SOLAS which is now part of our domestic laws, it spells the duties and responsibilities of all entities in the new maritime security regime.
Omonibeke noted that NPA as a law abiding corporate organization appreciates the roles of Tally clerks and On-board Security Men in ports operations and has convened the meeting so that all conflicts in the sector can be properly explained in the face of the law and the provisions of the port reforms, adding that in a bid to demonstrate this commitment, the Authority will continue to engage all stakeholders in order to ensure that all rules of engagement are followed to the later for the benefit of all, without fouling the law.
Earlier, the Chairman of the forum, Permanent Secretary Federal Ministry of Transport, represented by the Director Maritime Services, Alhaji Isa Galadanchi, had called on all stakeholders to express their views on the way forward in the Maritime sector, stressing that there is need to agree on who pays for the services of tally clerks and on-board security men. While directing all stakeholders to channel their submissions for proper harmonisation through electronic mail to the Federal Ministry of Transport, he promised to reconvene the forum at a future date for a feedback on the decisions reached.
Stakeholders who made presentations during the meeting included the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), Seaport Terminal Operators of Nigeria (STOAN), Shipping Companies and National Association of Stevedoring Companies.
Others are the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC).
Meanwhile, talking to pressmen at the after the meeting Omonibeke said that NPA would settle all the outstanding arrears of wages of tally clerks and on-board security men (a unit of dockworkers) before December 15.
In a separate address, the Executive Director, Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services of NIMASA, Dr Calistus Obi, said everybody in the meeting spoke out in the interest of his or her organisations.
Obi said the regulators approached the issue with the enabling Act of the different agencies in the maritime sector .
He said it would be a continuous interaction, adding that hopefully, there would be lasting solution without short-changing the government
In his words, “our interest is for everybody to operate within the ambit of our laws. We have regulatory powers which include sanctions; where the dockworkers fail.”
The President, National Association of Stevedoring Companies (NASC), Mr Bolaji Sunmola, said the meeting was meant to determine whether tally clerks should stay or not.
“Our position still remains that payment should be made as at when due and that NPA should be responsible for the payment of tally clerks and on-board security men,’’ Sunmola said.
Also speaking at the meeting, Hon. Abba Kaloma, a service provider and a member of NSAC, said the maritime workers has stated categorically that tally clerks and on-board security men should still remain at the ports.
He said it was left for the government agencies to analyse and point out the way forward.