The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) has kicked against the plan to re-establish the Nigeria National Shipping Line (NNSL) without addressing the plight of disengaged aged seafarers who were part of the defunct carrier.
The President General, MWUN; Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, said this in a statement on Wednesday in Lagos.
The union was reacting to the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Mr Adegboyega Oyetola, statement that the ministry will consider the re-establishment of the NNSL through a Public-Private Partnership arrangement.
Oyetola said this was borne out of the ministry’s desire to capture a substantial share of the estimated $10 billion annual ship charter market.
Adeyanju described Oyetola’s plan to re-establish the NNSL as a mirage.
He said the re-establishment of a new NNSL after 28 years of its liquidation would be a mirage, if the retired seafarers whom worked tirelessly with deep sense of patriotism for the country were not given their due rights.
“This will only amount to human injustice of the highest order. It will also be tantamount to placing the cart before the horse if such proposition is in the pipeline without first thinking of the aged seafarers.
“We, as a labour union, will not sit aloof and keep watching our aged seafarers to continue suffering unnecessary penury after meritorious years of service to their fatherland.
“It’s true that some of the aged seafarers have died from various types of ailments, some from psychological torture and trauma; mental degradation, abject poverty and so much more that has weighed them down in depression,” he said.
He recalled that the former Minister of Transportation, Muazu Sambo, had set up a committee involving two ministries, Ministry of Transportation and Labour Ministry to carry out physical verification exercise of the aged seafarers.
“The union thought this will bring some sort of succour; but the story is still the same. It’s indeed unfortunate to say here that the committee has never met.
“So, where do we go from here, when you want to refloat the NNSL with no consideration to the seafarers who served the defunct carrier vessels?
“This is unheard of anywhere globally, therefore, the assertion for a new NNSL is mirage in its conception, except the needful is done,” he said.
Adeyanju noted that he informed the minister of the enormous task ahead of him in his ministry and varying major issues confronting the union, especially on the protracted unpaid entitlements and pensions of disengaged seafarers of the liquidated NNSL.
He pointed out that the union had a different view of the minister when he did not speak about the aged seafarers who navigated with the moribund national carrier vessels over the new NNSL proposal.
Adeyanju also the Deputy President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, urged the minister to look into the nagging issue of the seafarers in the country.
He, however, promised the minister of the union’s support towards making sure that the nation would achieve much in the sector in his tenure.