Maritime Workers Threaten to Shut down Ports Nationwide in Seven Days

Maritime Workers Threaten to Shut down Ports Nationwide in Seven DaysThe Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) has threatened to withdraw all its members from the seaports nationwide if the federal government does not carry out emergency fixes on all access roads to ports, especially the Apapa port, by Monday, February 5.

The union revealed this intent in a statement signed by its President-General, Adewale Adeyanju, yesterday.

It called on the federal government to remove all the trucks on “Oshodi-Apapa Dual Carriage Way, and fill the craters and potholes on the access roads to all the ports to make the roads motorable,” the statement said.

 “If by Monday, February 5, 2018, the trucks are not removed and the craters and potholes filled, the union will withdraw all its members from the ports nationwide until these two demands are met.”

A strike by MWUN can effectively cripple port operations nationwide.

The union said the strike action has become necessary due to the federal government’s inability to repair access roads into ports across the country.

On May 14, 2017, the union had issued a 21-day ultimatum to the federal government to fix the access roads to the nation’s seaports especially the Oshodi-Apapa Dual Carriage Way that leads to Apapa and Tin-Can Ports.

Before the expiration of the ultimatum, the management of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) met with the union and pleaded that they were doing something to fix the roads.

“We were assured that remedial works would be done on the road because it was not captured in 2017 national budget,” Adeyanju said.

“We decided to suspend our planned industrial action.  We waited and endured very harrowing experiences on the access roads to the Ports in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Calabar and Warri, hoping upon hopes that the government will at least, do a quick fix on the roads to make them motorable.

“But, nine months after the union suspended its strike action, the roads have continue to deteriorate.

“In fact, we lost two of our members on the Oshodi-Apapa Dual Carriage Way,” Adeyanju said. “

The Oshodi-Apapa Dual Carriage Way has completely failed and unmotorable. From Berger Bridge, there are countless craters and potholes on the road. To worsen the already terrible situation, from Otto Wharf, the road have become parks and mechanic workshops for heavy duty trucks parked and abandoned by drivers and owners in the last few months. People now defecate, sleep, cook wash clothes, bathe and do whatever they like on the road. As a result, the road is now a safe haven for criminals who cease every opportunity to attack, assault and rob innocent Nigerians including our members who  trek to and from work daily on the road because it is no longer motorable.

“Today, only few vessels now berth at our seaports as most ship owners and businessmen prefer our neighbouring ports especially Cotonou.  While our neighbouring ports are booming, our ports have been deserted because of the failed access roads to the ports, the gateway to the nation’s economy.

“Last week, we took an assessment tour of the road and to our dismay, the Apapa axis of the road said to be under reconstruction  by a consortium of private individuals, which we understand that NPA has part paid the substantial part of N270million pledge it made on the reconstruction of the road, is at a stand still. In fact, from what we saw, at the rate the works on the road are going, that part of the road will not be completed in the next two years.

“Business activities at the ports are now next to nothing. We cannot continue like this. It is completely unacceptable to us as a major stakeholder.  

“We are afraid that if things continue like this, it will lead to retrenchment of workers among others, we cannot afford to lose any of our members to joblessness.”

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