Maritime workers protest NPA Repeal Act Bill
Operations across the nation’s seaports were today stagnated as labour unions protested against the Ports and Harbour bill pending at the National Assembly.
The union leaders alleged that the planned bill is bias and selfish.
The peaceful demonstration held in all the seaports across the country ,according to the unionists, serves as a warning to the government to withdraw the bill which the unions described as anti- people and obnoxious.
They alleged that when passed into law, it would destroy the nation’s ports operations and render thousands of workers jobless.
The protest which was led by leaders of both the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) and the Senior Staff Association of Communication,Transport and Corporation (SSACTAC) at the Lagos Ports Complex (LPC)in Lagos , were accompanied by mammoth crowd with strong worded placards.
As a result of the protest, human and vehicular movement were halted as vehicles were not allowed in and out of the port. Many container laden trucks in the port ready to exit were stuck.
Addressing journalists at the Lagos Ports Complex, Apapa entry gate,President General of MWUN, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju reiterated the need for the NASS to throw away the bill because it negates the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) act of 1955 as amended.
Adeyanju noted that “if this bill is being passed into law; it will lead to massive job loss to members and not all the workers currently with NPA will be absolved”
He noted that “experience has thought us what happened in the past when the seaports were concession 10years ago,government said nobody will lose their job but from what we are about to see right now;if this bill is passed into law then thousands of workers in the maritime industry will lose their jobs”
“The bill if passed will send dockworkers,seamen,shipping operators staff, NPA workers to the labour market and the bill does not make provision for those who will not be absolved because there will no payment for them by the new Nigerian Harbour Authority”
Adeyanju described the bill as a security risk to the nation when passed into law adding that “this bill must not see the light of the day”.
Speaking further he added that “we want to use this medium to appeal to members of the NASS and its leaders to throw away this because it seeks to do more harm to the majority and favour the few individuals promoting it”
“Most especially,we urged Honourable Ossai for the interest of Nigerians to withdraw this bill and stand on the side of the people. “
Also speaking,President of SSACTAC Comrade Benson Adegbeyeni accused members of the National Assembly of shortchanging Nigerians after being voted into power by the people.
Adegbeyeni recalled that the 2006 port concession made many Nigerians lose their jobs and the union will never allow such to come again through such bill.
The SSACTAC president noted that the bill when passed,does not make any form of provision for workers that might be disengaged,pointing out “NPA of 10years ago till date is an eyesore “
He added that, the bill when passed into law would enslave Nigerians stressing the need for harbour operations to be the sole responsibility of the government and not private individuals.
“On Our part,as organised labour,we unequivocally reject this bill and to show our resolve,as we speak with you and all the ports formations nationwide have been shutdown since 6am today”
“And we are determined to ensure that Nigeria and Nigerians are not short changed by this obnoxious bill”,he added.
Caption: NPA Boss, Hadiza Bala Usman