The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), has lamented the current economic recession hitting the country, saying the situation has led to the loss of jobs of its 3000 workers who has so far been disengaged by no less than 20 shipping companies.
President-General of the union, Mr. Anthony Emmanuel, who disclosed this at a media parley in Lagos, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently stop the drift to prevent a looming national disaster in the polity.
The workers’ leader said the affected shipping companies were very prominent at the ports, even as he warned that more of them who are now operating at a low level may soon follow the sack tunes in view of the harsh situation they have currently found themselves.
In his words “Today, we lament the action of the management of Nigeria Ports Authority, NPA, in also planning to sack a section of the Dockworkers, especially the Tally Clerks and Onboard Security men in spite of their importance and relevance in the Port operations, as it affects the reoccurring scourge of tonnage under declaration and its negative impact on the nation’s economy.
“The leakage of revenue through under declaration of tonnage should be seriously tackled. In this regard, we reiterate that Tally Clerks and Onboard Security men should be allowed to continue the critical job of uncovering and discouraging under tonnage which is often done with the unholy collaboration of NPA, shipping companies, agents and terminal operators. The Tally Clerks and onboard security men are capable of preventing these economic crimes as they were doing through their independent and physical tallying process.
“Over 2000 workers (Tally clerks and onboard security men) are involved. Their reinstatement will go a long way in reducing the number of unemployed Nigerians, and also reducing the misery of their families” he said.
Also lamenting the collapse of infrastructures at the ports, the Union leader called on government to urgently commence a process of expanding and rehabilitating the ports’ access roads in order to free them from traffic gridlocks.
“The traditional rail operations in our seaports should be restored to reduce the pressure on our highways and daily fatal accidents and deaths from containers. Waterways should be developed for delivery of laden containers and heavy equipment through our coastal waters into the hinterland.
“The tank-farms which are now dangerously located close to the ports, residential areas and along the expressways and access roads close to the ports should be relocated far away from the seaports to stave-off the perennial gridlocks on the roads.
“The volume of vehicles imported into Nigeria through Nigerian ports has collapsed to an all-time low, with consequent loss of thousands of jobs in the maritime sector” the Union said.
Also commenting on the current import policy, particularly as it affects automobiles, the union leader lamented thus: “The new duty regime for vehicles introduced since 2004 and application of the new rate of exchange rate for duty calculations have made the importation of cars and trucks into Nigeria far too expensive.
“In the last two years, the number of vehicles arriving Nigeria has shrunk by almost two thirds, while the volume of cars smuggled through the Cotonou Border has continued to rise unabated. It is therefore necessary that the Federal Government reviews its stance on the automotive policy so as not to inflict any more suffering on the workers who are already having a hard time with price increases every day.
“The Federal Government should look at making the importation of cars and trucks more competitive to enable the economy to grow. A significant reduction in the duties applicable on cars and trucks will go a long way in alleviating the challenges of our people and spur economic activities.
“Government should as a matter of urgency adopts policies towards resuscitating the export of agricultural produces and mineral resources that were hitherto the main stay of the Nigerian economy before the discovery of oil. This will no doubt create jobs in our seaports and increase revenue for the government” he added.