The National Association of Stevedoring Companies (NASC) has revealed that concessioning of Nigerian Ports has done more harm than good to the port system in the country.
The association alleged that the port concessioning of 2006 has further damaged the port system, while accusing terminal operators of incompetence, it added that this has led to the poor treatment of dock workers in the country.
Speaking to Shipping Position Daily, the NASC National President; Mr. Bolaji Sunmola informed that during the concession agreement, the stevedoring association were not carried along and were also given observer status at the National Joint Industrial Council (NJIC) where welfare packages for port workers were negotiated, adding that the stevedores are now finding it difficult to kit their dockworkers because they are poorly remunerated.
According to him, "the new concessionaires that came onboard, most of them have not had any practices of shipping before, except one or two of them doing RoRo operations, they have not added any value to what they met on ground, they only came to take over jobs that have been existing for more than 80 years, from those who are already in the practice
"When NPA was in charge of activities at the port, we were the ones that negotiate the rates as employers and the Maritime Workers Union are there to protect the interest of their members, but after the concessioning, we were reduced to observers. Clearly, I cannot negotiate on behalf of the labour, the maritime workers negotiate on behalf of their members, while I negotiate for my members”, he lamented.
“Do you know that many of the port terminals do not have ordinary toilets for dockworkers? Many of the port terminals cannot boast of providing toilets for dockworkers, let alone Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The dockworkers, while carrying out their duty inside the terminals, usually do what is called “Short-put” anytime they are pressed. After the short-put, they throw their feaces into the water.
“Imagine terminal operators that cannot provide common toilets inside port terminals for workers, asking us to provide PPEs for the workers? An ordinary boot for a dockworker now cost around N45,000, and that depends on the kind of operation the dockworker is doing.
“We have not said we cannot provide kits for the dockworkers, but the operation we carry out in the ports must fund such expenditure, but what can we do government policies do not carry along the critical aspects of the operators in the maritime
"Now, to provide standard PPE is very expensive, a boot for dockworkers cost as much as N45,000 for one person, we can do it, but the operation must fund it, now, in a situation where we are not involved in the minimum negotiations for the dockworkers, how are we going to implement it” he said.