The National Association of Stevedoring Contractors (NASC) has condemned what it described as high level of disregard for Nigerian laws by the International Oil Companies (IOCs) operating in the country.
The President of the Association, Mr. Bolaji Sunmola, speaking with news men on Wednesday, lamented that the IOCs have taken over the stevedoring jobs which are meant for the locals, adding that the laws regulating the activities of stevedoring operations were not being respected by this group of off-shore operators.
Sunmola stated this while reacting to the recent Marine Notice issued by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) for stevedoring firms to return to location and commence operations.
You will recall that NIMASA, last week, issued a marine notice where it warned stevedoring companies to commence operations at their dedicated locations or face sanctions.
The Director General, NIMASA Dr. Bashir Jamoh, in the notice, has said that the agency has directed all duly registered stevedoring companies with operational areas allotted by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), which are yet to start operation, to mobilise to their work locations.
Commending NIMASA for issuing the notice, the association stated that the notice is not just in favour of stevedorers in the country, but it is in the interest of Nigerians entirely, adding that the directive is in line with the Stevedoring Regulation, 2014, gazetted by the Federal Government of Nigeria, developed pursuant to the NIMASA Act, 2007.
According to him, “the notice is in regulation with the stevedoring agreement of 2014 and thank God NIMASA is waking up to their responsibility It is in the interest of Nigerians entirely and not stevedoring alone
“For NIMASA to come out to issue a marine notice to the whole world, I don't think they would want to do something they won’t be able to see to the end.
“That is why we are encouraging them the more and that what they have done is right and we will support them with whatever they need to make it successful.
“And for the first five days, they know the reaction they had worldwide. Shipping lines are in contact with them to ask if it is going to happen because there is a 30-day notice to that effect. We are craving that it should be implemented. What needs to be done has to be done because it is the law of the land.
However, decrying the activities of the IOCs, the group said the IOCs cannot constitute themselves into different powerful men making things difficult for the stevedores in the country, he said stevedores in the country need to be gainfully employed, adding that the works carried out by foreigners should be carried out by Nigerians.
“We need to have gainful employment; all these works are there but they are being done by foreigners, we have the local content development management board that sees to some jobs to the locals, a foreigner should not just come in and take over the job for the locals
“What needs to be done has to be done because it is the law of the land. The IOCs cannot constitute themselves into different powerful men that will be making things difficult for us the owners of things. It is not done. They have been doing this in so many industries; somebody has to come out along the line to stop that. They cannot do this in Saudi Arabia. In all the Arabian countries, they cannot do that, so why are they doing that here” he said.
When questioned about their reaction to the instruction issued by NIMASA that no stevedoring companies should terminate employment of its dock workers the group said, “the good thing about stevedoring is pay as you go, so if there is no vessel ,you will not work, so sacking dockworkers will be impossible, so it’s all about pay as you go.”