The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has promised to settle all the outstanding arrears of wages of tally clerks and on-board security men before Dec. 15.
The Executive Director Marine and Operations of NPA, David Omonibeke assured after a joint meeting between government agencies and stevedoring companies.
This assurance will ensure smooth activities at the ports where non-payment of the tally clerks and on board security men had repeatedly caused a shut down of activities at the nation’s ports by the maritime workers.
Others at the meeting include representatives of NPA, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Federal Ministry of Transport, Nigerian Shippers’ Council, terminal operators, stevedoring companies, Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) were also represented at the meeting.
“Our meeting is to enable the agencies, the ministry, to make inputs on the best way forward. So we hope to get positive answers,’’ Omonibeke said.
Omonibeke said NPA was working toward making sure that the terminal operators perfect their bills with the tally clerks and on-board security men before Dec. 15 when the contract would be terminated.
“Government is making efforts that before the expiration of the contract, the right organisations or the terminal operators would be responsible for payment of the services of tally clerks and on-board security men.
“Bills are processed and the ports authority wants to make sure that before the contract ends, it will be able to sort out the outstanding bills before Dec. 15.
the Executive Director, Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services of NIMASA, Calistus Obi, said everybody in the meeting spoke out in the interest of his or her organisations.
Obi said the regulators approached the issue with the enabling Act of the different agencies in the maritime sector .
He said it would be a continuous interaction, adding that hopefully, there would be lasting solution without short-changing the government
“Our interest is for everybody to operate within the ambit of our laws.
“NIMASA’s position is clear. It is predicated on Section 37, Sub-Section 1, A, B, C, D, of the NIMASA Act which mandated us to intervene on issues relating to dispute on welfare and wages of dockworkers in any ports in Nigeria.
“We have regulatory powers which include sanctions; where the dockworkers fail,’’ Obi said.
The President, National Association of Stevedoring Companies (NASC), Mr Bolaji Sunmola, said the meeting was meant to determine whether tally clerks should stay or not.
“Our position still remains that payment should be made as and when due and that NPA should be responsible for the payment of tally clerks and on-board security men,’’ Sunmola said.
He said NPA had paid the stevedores 40 per cent of the arrears of wages being owed and had promised to pay the remaining 60 per cent before Dec. 15.
A Service Provider and a member of the NASC, Hon. Abba Kalona, said the maritime workers had stated categorically that tally clerks and on-board security men should still remain at the ports.
He said it was left for the government agencies to analyse and point out the way forward.
“It was stated that the concessionary agreement should be reviewed every two or three years.
“It is our belief that there should be tariffs on cargoes to sort out the payment of tally clerks and on-board security men,’ Kalona said.