Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria have threatened to shut down seaports on Friday if the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, fail to pay six months outstanding salary arrears to its members.
The President-General of the union, Mr. Tony Nted, gave the threat in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos.
Nted said the workers, including tally clerks and on-board security men, were aggrieved over the unpaid salaries.
He said, “This is now about the workers, who have been owed salaries even after NPA promised to pay long before now.
“In frustration, the workers attacked the zonal office of the union, saying the union had not pursued their payments vigorously.
“We are just lucky that people were not injured.
“However, they made their grievances known to the NPA and threatened to shut the ports by Friday if payments are not made.
“NPA has been promising to pay, but now they refused to pay.”
The Public Affairs Manager of NPA, Capt. Iheanacho Ebubeogu, told the aggrieved workers to meet their employers.
He said the NPA would prefer to deal directly with stevedoring companies, who should in turn attend to their workers, rather than the NPA dealing with the dockworkers.
Meanwhile, maritime experts and stakeholders may have begun a brainstorming session on how to develop a Pan African fleet.
The African Ship-owners Association, ASA, which masterminded the initiative in Lagos, said they were convinced that certain maritime issues were better approached from regional or continental perspectives, rather than the usual nationalistic level.
Dr. Boniface Aniebonam, founder, National Association of Government approved Freight Forwarders, last week, added another year and he was given a surprise birthday celebration by friend.
At the opening session of a conference tagged “African Cargo for African Ship-owners”, the chairperson of the African Union, AU, commission, Dr. Nkosanana Dlamini Zuma also noted that the event was to evolve strategies for the implementation of African Decade of the Seas and Oceans, 2015-2025.
Represented by Mr. Samuel Kame-Domguia, AU’s coordinator of the 2050 AIM-Strategy Taskforce, Zuma emphasised the need for Africa states to exploit and benefit from its blue/ocean economy as listed in the commission’s agenda 2063; stressing the need for member states to speed up efforts at developing and maintaining maritime infrastructure as a heritage of current and future generations.
“As we move towards our vision of Africa in 2063, we must speed up our efforts to build, develop and maintain the necessary infrastructure to support Africa’s accelerated integration and growth, technological transformation, trade and development,” the AU chairperson stated.
She however, expressed disappointment over the fact that in spite of the large number of ships plying African waters, there were very few ship-owners and ships flying African flags.
“…Every day, large numbers of ships navigate our waters, but we have few ships flying under African flags, and too few Africa ship-owners. This is not only a matter of continental pride, it is about economics.
“The ships who take and bring cargo from our shores, the jobs, the food and other services they use, all these are value adds, which Africans have very little stake in.
“In addition, our countries are increasingly training seafarers but our young people cannot get sea experience, because we do not have enough ships!
“This situation must change, and we need an industrial strategy to build an African Shipping and Oceanic transport sector.”
Speaking also at the event, Mr. Temisan Omatseye, the ASA president, stressed the need for African nations to key into African Union’s 2050 AIM-Strategy as it has the capacity to address issues plaguing the development of ship building and the maritime industry as a whole.
Omatseye explained that Africa has done itself a lot of disservice by not paying attention to the shipping/maritime sector, adding that it is paramount that Africa begins to participate in the movement of its cargo within its waters.
He therefore, stressed the need for stakeholders to partner with the AU on establishing national, regional and continental cabotage which allows only ships owned, built, registered and manned by Africans to ply African waters.
In his contribution on “Legal framework for an African Maritime cabotage,” a maritime expert and lawyer, Mr. Emeka Akabogu, spoke extensively on cabotage and the need for the AU to properly define the concepts of national, regional and continental ccabotage in terms of scope and application.
He stressed the need for the commission to base its decision on empirical studies while ensuring that nations do not contravene international conventions that they are signatories to.
Akabogu also brought to fore the need for the legal framework to ensure that countries with significant markets and cargo traffic are not shortchanged in the application of African cabotage by nations with little or no cargo traffic.
Participants came from several countries, including Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, Congo, Tanzania and Mozambique. One of the survivors of the Ikorodu boat accident, Seun Adebanjo, 26, has said the ill-fated ferry which killed five of the passengers, developed fault two different times on water before it eventually capsized.

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