Labour: Terminal, jetty operator’s crippling stevedoring companies —NASC

·…As NIMASA vows to intervene in labour face-off

The National Association of Stevedoring Companies (NASC) has warned that labour sourcing actions of terminals and jetty operators in the Nigerian maritime domain are threatening to cripple the fortunes of stevedoring companies operating in the sector.

Speaking exclusively with the Nigerian Tribune, President of NASC, Bolaji Sunmola explained that talks are ongoing with the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to see how only government approved stevedoring firms will work in Nigeria’s maritime domain.

According to him, “if terminals and jetty operators continue to deny stevedoring companies the right to operate in their premises, then they are deliberately crippling the fortunes of the stevedoring firms.

“Don’t forget that the stevedoring firms have invested so much in terms of training and capacity building. These investments have taken a lot of years for the stevedoring firms to build.

“Aside training and capacity building, stevedoring firms have continued to invest in their businesses to ensure they meet up with modern way and technologies of doing stevedoring operations.

“As you know, maritime is an international business. It is not peculiar to Nigeria. So, there are international standards and parameters that are used to rate stevedoring firms globally. NASC members have continued to invest in their operations to ensure they meet up with these international standards. I can’t quantify how much has been invested so far. All this investments are all paid for in dollars.

“So if we have invested so much in stevedoring business in Nigeria, depriving our members businesses at the ports is inimical to the development of the sector. We are still hoping that NIMASA will come to our rescue. Talks are currently ongoing.

“There are still a lot of things that needs to be done because we are operating in a country where laws are easily flouted. If an individual can decide to reject a firm that is duly registered and approved by the Federal Government to provide a particular service in a sector, then you know there is problem.”

When asked to list the names of operators not patronising approved stevedoring firms in Nigeria’s maritime domain, Sunmola stated that, “I cannot do that for now. It is not that I cannot mention their names right now, but we are expectant that they will change their approach to stevedoring.

“Many of our members have gone out of business while many don’t have work to do. It is time we get things right in our maritime domain.”

NIMASA vows to intervene in labour face-off
The Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Dakuku Peterside has restated that the agency is capable of carrying out its regulatory functions and will not abdicate its mandate to anybody in the midst of the labour face-off currently threatening the peace between terminal/jetty operators and the stevedoring companies.

Dr Peterside made this known while receiving the members of the National Association of Stevedoring Companies (NASC) led by its President, Mr Bolaji Sunmola at the agency’s headquarters in Lagos recently.

The DG warned that NIMASA will not abdicate its regulatory responsibility as they concern the operations of stevedoring companies and how they relate with terminal and jetty operators saying that they do not have the powers to eject stevedoring companies approved by the government to operate in their facilities.

He emphasised that “it is NIMASA’s responsibility to oversight Stevedoring functions in our ports, terminals and jetties and we will not abdicate that function to anybody. In the exercise of this function, we will interphase with terminal operators and the National Association of Stevedoring Companies to make sure maritime operations are not hampered.”

Dr Peterside also noted that the agency understands the challenges faced by Stevedoring Companies and the terminal operators noting that NIMASA will consult further with all parties to ensure that there is an amicable resolution of the issues.

The DG highlighted the importance of stevedoring companies to include facilitating economic growth, ensuring industrial harmony and also serving as a security shield in the ports.

He assured the delegation of the Agency’s commitment to develop human capacity saying that “the Management of NIMASA has approved a comprehensive stevedoring guideline sensitization which would soon commence.”