Engr. Wale George (Vice President, Nigerian Merchant Navy)
The bill will allow the rich and corrupt politicians to hijack the system and increase the cost of shipping and logistics. Ports and harbours are best maintained and controlled by the Government. The privatization of Apapa Port does not yield any improvement or bring down the cost of shipping. The Government should go back to owning and controlling key and sensitive areas of the economy. Leaving critical areas of the economy in the hands of private investors will lead to the upliftment and empowerment of only the rich. The rich will continue to keep the poor down and oppressed. The wealth will continue to circulate amongst the rich alone. The rich will buy, own and sell to foreign investors later. Also the foreign investors will bring and employ foreigners on the job while the less privileged will continue to suffer.
Paul Ngwan (MWUN Chieftain)
I personally do not encourage that, because it will have a great effect on the Nigerian maritime workers. It would put their job at risk and this will not be good for the economy at all. I am not in support of that Port and Harbour Bill. They have been on this issue for a long time. What is with all these Bills they are bringing up just to fight and protect selfish interests of some powerful individuals? I am not in support of it.
Engr. Matthew Alalade (Former President, Merchant Navy)
I support the Maritime Workers Union on their stand on the Port and Harbour Bill. The Nigerian Ports Authority can continue the good work. We don’t know who sponsored the Port and Harbour Bill. We don’t even know if the person is from the maritime domain. We do not know the intentions behind it. For me, I support the Maritime Workers Union for standing against it. They have dockworkers in their domain that they cater for, whatever action the Maritime Workers Union deem fit, I support them.
Captain Adetayo Saliu (Chairman, Merchant Navy Shipping Zonal Council)
It cannot be a welcome development if all stakeholders do not participate. I don’t know how they want to do it. And all stakeholders should participate, actually. If it is not a selective discussion to get good results that will see to the welfare and benefit Nigerian dock workers. This is because it is who wears the shoe that knows where it pinches. So, somebody cannot just come and you select people that don’t know where the shoe pinches and you say they should discuss. That is my take on it. Most of what they are doing now, they have not really involved the stakeholders and maritime workers to really harness and get solutions to how it will be implemented. It’s not what we should over-flog. But they are saying it will favour dock workers. But I say, who are those there? Who are those invited? Are they maritime workers? I don’t have much to say about that.
Captain Thomas Kemewerigha
The truth of the matter is that when a bill is presented, every stakeholder is given the room to come and defend that bill in the House, before it’s passed into law. So if you look at the Port and Harbour bill in totality, it cannot be 100 percent against the workforce. But if it’s against the workforce, taking into consideration that it is still a draft, then the various players need to kick against it accordingly.
But I want you to believe that globalization is taking place and Nigeria is not excluded. What is happening in the port of Durban in South Africa should be happening in Apapa and Tin Can Ports. But my concern is that every year this bill is going to the House and many of our stakeholders are making it difficult for the bill to pass through. The bill should go to the House, all the stakeholders should go and present their case and let us get a clear cut bill that will govern the affairs of the Nigeria Ports. That’s my take.
Comrade Ifeanyi Abel Chukwu (Admin/Asst. Secretary, Merchant Navy)
All I can say is that the Ports and Harbour Bill is clearly a landlord model, which will improve private sector participation in port operations. It is different from the Nigerian Ports Authority Act, which is the owner-operator port management model. However there are some aspects of the bill, which stakeholders frown at, which I think the legal framework should be looked into critically before consenting the bill as it has already passed 3rd reading. In its entirety it’s a welcome development.