Seaports paralyzed as maritime workers flag off strike

PHOTO for Story No.1. Charity groups asking for food items plus crowds watching the strike impact at Onne Port Wednesday

* But NPA begins talk with MWUN

By Gladys Nweke

Seaports in Nigeria on Wednesday, July 3, 2019, suffered shutdown following strike action by the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN). Police operatives in the morning took positions at the Apapa Port’s main gate, as the workers effectively embarked on strike and kept the nation’s ports paralyzed.

Several threats had been issued but no action was taken in the demand for payment to workers by international oil corporations (IOCs).

From the nation’s mother port, the Apapa Ports, to the Tin Can Island, to Port Harcourt and Onne ports, business activities shut down, even though the entire scenario showed a highly coordinated but peaceful strike action.

Speaking , the President General of MWUN, Comrade Abdul-Waheed Adeyanju, had assured that the ports would enjoy a nationwide shutdown beginning from 6am, as the authorities had refused to intervene in the alleged refusal of the IOCs to pay labourers officially engaged whose services they rendered.

He said: “We will begin a nationwide strike today being Wednesday, July 3, after the expiration of a two-week strike ultimatum issued by the union on June 13 over the non-payment of stevedoring contractors, the Union had consistently threatened, even though everyone, including the authorities of the Nigerian Ports turned deaf and dumb.”

Even then, they did not begin the strike last Friday, hoping that the Authorities would intervene, and call the IOCs to order.

A police officer who spoke on condition of anonymity said the force was there to ensure that public peace was not allowed to break down. He also said it was their duty to ensure that ‘miscreants’ were not allowed to hijack the situation.

Charity groups asking for food items plus crowds watching the strike impact at Onne Port Wednesday

But, informed sources disclosed under anonymity, that the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has begun a fire brigade intervention approach to stem down the strike, in a bid to ensure the ports open again for business.

The Authority’s image-maker, Engr. Adams Jatoo, told Silver News that the authority had opened up some discussion with the aggrieved workers. “We are talking. And we are hoping that something very concrete would be arrived at, before the close of today, the Authority’s image-maker and Spokesman, Adams Jatoo indicated this morning.

“It must however be understood that the nation would lose more billions in terms of revenue, than the peanuts the IOCs were presently owing the stevedoring workers, aside from the congestion it may further exacerbate.”

An aggrieved importer whose cargo could not be taken out of the Onne Port spoke on condition of anonymity saying he could not describe how he felt, because the country seemd to be loosing its focus, even in the maritime sector. Charity organizations in their numbers crowded Onne custom command for relief materials for their ophanage homes as the strike only affected dock workers with terminal operators in Onne Port, Rivers State.

A source said: “This is what happens when you politicize every appointment. A simple telephone call to the right person would have prompted the IOCs to pay the workers and we will be saved of this avoidable inconvenience! But now, see where we are.”